It is not a matter of if…
It is a matter of how often, and when.
Welcome to the Chunder Dome gentlemen.
If you haven’t been fortunate, you can skip this chapter as you’ve had the dreaded infant barfer… If you’ve been fortunate to date, read on for a few tips on how to handle kid chunder.
The single purpose of an infant/child is to try as many things as they can. Likewise, the goal of an intelligent parent is to expose an infant to as many different things as possible. Therefore, the job of an infant/child is in essence, to study. Kids are meant to do one thing… to experiment. That’s right, scientific study… They begin at birth. First, when they look out at their hands and witness their own hand move and they try to repeat the motion. Second when they cry, you come to comfort them. Third, when they put gooey mud in their mouths (it doesn’t taste so bad) and their parents sure do get upset. And Fourth, when they hurl on you, you turn away in disgust.
It’s the fourth child science study course that we’re going to discuss here.
I actually learned of the best way to handle a complete face full of chunder (from a distance of ten feet as I recommend you do here), from a total stranger at a wedding three years before my first child was born. The high-class “Cool Hand Luke” individual I understudied was actually a groomsmen in the wedding party, about to take the stage in his friends wedding ceremony. This guy, in all of his fatherly splendor, was holding his beautiful daughter up above his head and cooing to her. Those of us at the surrounding tables, especially the women (read: my wife), watched in happy amazement as the baby cooed lovingly back with eyes full of joy for her father. All of a sudden this angelic one-and-half-year-old cooed her lunch (a full stomach’s worth) onto his head, face, shoulders, jacket, shirtfront and tie.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking… he shouldn’t have been holding that kid above his head. But he was… and it was his reaction to this frontal assault that stymied me at the time, stuck with me these last seven years, and helped me to shape the way I choose to interact with my children. He actually said aloud, his voice full of praise, “Good job, honey!” drew his daughter close and kissed her, chunks, druel, and all. He then told her that he loved her, handed the kid to her mother, and walked to his car to get a spare shirt and tie.
No anger, no hostility, no cussing. Just like that, he put the event past both of them.
Further, like the Away Change Bag, he had come fully prepared. When I asked him about this event later he explained to me that kid chunder is just a part of the child rearing deal, that his parents had always yelled at him when he barfed as a kid, and that he didn’t want to attach too much attention to the act of hurling so that his daughter wouldn’t attach too much importance to it either.
Wow. The guy just washed his face and hair out, changed his shirt and tie (his wife helped him clean the jacket) and he went to stand up for one of his dear friends in the wedding ceremony.
When our first child came of serious barfing age (approximately when he began eating 42 pounds of real mushed-up food at a sitting) I noted my wife had a peculiar habit. When our child prodigy cleared his guts onto the bed, floor, our laps, the new couch, or our best friends new cream-colored bur bur carpet, my normally calm wife would erupt and spurt words more suited for a long-shoreman than my mild mannered wife. With each of our little baseball player’s guttural spasms, my wife would crow, “SHIT, DAMN, OH MAN, CRAP.”
When I brought this to her attention she did lessen the volume of her oratory, yet to this day when Berk gives up his lunch, she lets fly and lip-syncs with expletives. I, however, have taken to cheering him on with “Good Job! Way to Go! Only a couple more!” Further, when he is sick I collect all of the unwashed towels from all of the bathrooms and the laundry and spread them out in front of Berk, make a center target for him, and remind him repeatedly that if he has to chunder again to try and hit the center of the top towel. I give him a place where he knows it is ok to hurl.
This may explain why when our little man is ill, he comes to me for comfort, reassurance, and a warm lap to barf onto. None-the-less, he comes to his dad when he feels his worst, and in doing so makes me feel the like a great dad.