Reading this thread at FMH on taking sick kids to church has inspired me to tell you about the experience I had a few weeks ago–the Sunday right before Christmas, actually.  Sugar Daddy had to be at church early because he was singing in the choir.  He took the older two children with him, and I was to follow later with the younger two.  That morning Elvis woke up and told SD, “I sick.” 

Now, here you need a little bit of background.  You might recall that back in September, right after the fire, when we were still staying in hotels, Elvis (and the other children) got some sort of stomach flu.  That’s when Elvis picked up two new phrases:  “I sick” and “Gonna barf.”  The actual sick-and-barfing period lasted just a few days, but it’s fair to say that every single day since then, at least once a day, Elvis has come up to SD or me and said, “I sick.  Gonna barf.”  Of course, it didn’t take us long to figure out that he wasn’t actually sick, nor was he going to barf; he was just making conversation.  So we would just tell him, “No, you’re not sick, don’t barf,” or words to that effect, and life would just go on as before. 

So when Elvis said that he was sick on this particular Sunday, none of us thought anything of it.  He’s not savvy enough to know how to get out of going to church; if he doesn’t want to go to church, he will just scream, “NOOOOOOOO!!!”  Just like the rest of us.  Anyway, SD took the older two kids to church with him and I set about getting myself and the little kids ready to go.  At some point I noticed that Elvis seemed particularly lethargic.  I also noticed that he wasn’t fighting putting his Sunday clothes on.  I called SD on his cell phone and told him I thought Elvis might actually be sick.  SD said that he needed me to bring something to church and if Elvis still seemed sick, I could take him home.  So I finished getting us ready, drove down to church with whatever-SD-needed-me-to-bring-I-can’t-remember, and we slipped into the pew with Princess Zurg and Mister Bubby right before the service began.  At least I think it was right before.  It might have been right after.  It’s sort of a blur.

Well, Elvis seemed to be doing okay, and I felt like I should probably stay for the rest of the service because, after all, it was the Christmas program and the Christmas program is less boring than ordinary church because there’s more singing and less yakking about religious stuff.  Also, I knew that if I left immediately, the baby would throw a fit because, dangit, she just got out of the car, and she wasn’t going to go back into the car without a fight, and if I could just make it through the chapel service, I could dump her in the nursery for the second and third hours and not have to fight her at all.  Yes, I admit it was this latter motivation that animated me.  Or prevented my animation, as the act of staying didn’t involve much acting, just sitting and waiting.

So Elvis was very subdued, but he was eating Goldfish crackers and keeping to himself and not talking about barf, so I thought, “Okay.  We’re okay.  We can make it through the next forty minutes or so,” and I just sat there listening to the choir and whatnot and being very relaxed and unsuspecting.  As the hour wore on, however, I thought how very unusual this subdued-ness was in Elvis, how very uncharacteristic and foreboding it seemed, and I thought, “As soon as the choir sings the last number and SD can take these other kids, I’m taking you home, buster.” 

So before the choir sang its last number, a gentleman I did not know or recognize got up to speak–about Christmas, I reckon–I really don’t remember because I was staring so intently at Elvis in all his subdued, lethargic glory and hoping against hope that he was really just tired, because kids sometimes get tired, you know, and he’d been telling me every day for the last four months that he was sick and going to barf and never delivered, and why should today be any different? 

This gentleman, whoever he was, seemed to speak for a very long time.  I’m sure everything he said was of great value to everyone present, with the possible exception of me and Elvis, who was looking more and more “tired” by the second.  Finally, the gentleman at the pulpit began to wrap things up, and just as he was uttering what I believe was his last prepared sentence of his remarks, Princess Zurg let out a blood-curdling scream because Elvis, God bless him, had just relieved himself of stomach contents, and little Goldfish bits were swimming in a vomitous river than ran through our pew.

I’m sure this poor gentleman wondered what on earth he’d said to upset the little girl in the third row, who was now standing on the bench and screaming, “I’VE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE!  HELP!”  Unfortunately, we were on a side pew and the only way out was through the vomit or over the heads of the people in front of us. 

It was one of those moments when I knew I had to do something, but I just couldn’t remember what it was.  I looked up to the choir seats, where SD was pantomiming a vomiting action, and when I nodded vigorously to confirm that that was indeed what had happened, he came down into the congregation and grabbed the now-sobbing Elvis–who, I forgot to mention, does not like being messy, no, not one bit–and took him to get cleaned up.  PZ was still screaming, Mister Bubby was whining, I didn’t have so much as a diaper wipe on me, and I was still holding the baby, who really wanted to get down and walk through the Goldfish bile.

So eventually my brain kicked into crisis mode, I handed the baby over to a friend several rows back, and I went in search of…paper towels.  I still couldn’t think clearly, and to tell you the truth, I was laughing too hard.  A couple people were concerned at first because they thought I was crying, but that just goes to show how little they know about me. 

Can I just say here that the people I go to church with are wicked awesome?  Because by the time I returned to the pew with paper towels, these two other ladies had already cleaned everything up with a single hand towel from the kitchen and the wet wipes from their diaper bags.  I didn’t even know these women.  They were like little barf-cleaning angels. 

So I went to check on SD and Elvis, who were just walking out of the men’s room.  Correction:  SD was walking, Elvis was skipping.  You never saw a happier, more bright-eyed-and-rosy-cheeked child.  It was like he’d just purged himself of a demon, and now he was ready to take on the world.  Needless to say, I took him home anyway, if only for propriety’s sake. 

So trust our family to make church exciting for everyone.  The holy spirit has been known to affect people in a variety of ways, but I think this may be the first documented case of charismatic puking.  At least at our church.

The following week I was in the church library, chatting with some other ladies, and one of them mentioned Elvis throwing up and said she didn’t know if this would make me feel better, but when her husband’s oldest son was just a little boy being toilet-trained, he (the son) had diarrhea one Sunday, and not only had diarrhea at church but had it in the middle of the chapel service in the middle of the middlest row, and it not only got all over the pew and the floor but proceeded to drip all over the people his father had to climb over to get him out of there.  (You would think such an event would clear a pew pretty rapidly, but apparently the sermon was really riveting that day, or something.) 

It might have been wrong, but that did make me feel better.

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