The gag reel
The joy of parenting is often interrupted by moments of ick
Becoming a parent is exhilarating, inspiring and life changing.
It’s also really gross.
It’s no secret that among the skills you’ll need as a parent are the ability to withstand an onslaught of communicable diseases and a Teflon exterior capable of deflecting projectile bodily fluids. It’s just part of the job description.
My own daughter hasn’t been a sticky microbe farm/toddler for a while, so the odious years are mostly behind us. But a quick spin through the halls down at Dad-on-Board labs revealed that kids are still gross.
Take, for example, the tale of a coworker we’ll call “Jenna.” (Because her name is Jenna.) We passed each other in the lunch room not too long ago, and I asked her how her weekend was. She told me it was rough because she got sick from her daughter sneezing in her mouth. Twice.
Then there’s Morgen (also her real name) who, while recently getting over a cold she and her two children passed back-and-forth like a pandemic ping-pong match, got an email from her husband that simply said: “pray for me.” It was his turn.
My brother has eight children and between he, his wife and his fruitful lineage, it seemed it was always his turn. Over the years, though, his immune system has hardened into an impenetrable shield through which only the most virulent germs could penetrate. Though as he put it in an email recently, “every once in a while, one sneaks by the goalie.”
We only have one child, so the chain of transmission always seemed to end fairly quickly. Our kid would come home with something transmittable and viscous, my wife would get it, I’d get it, and we’d be done with it.
Our descent into ick came primarily from her food allergies – something we didn’t discover until she prepared to enter first grade. Her allergic reaction, thankfully, is to throw up, which is certainly preferable to anaphylaxis. Initially, her pediatrician chalked it up to having consistency issues with certain foods. So up until that point, we accepted the fact that when we went to a restaurant, there was a chance she was going to leave at least part of the meal behind. One of her first complete sentences was: “I threw up all over the Texas Roadhouse.”
When my daughter was less than a year old, I made the poor decision to play with her a little too much after giving her a bottle. As I held her high, she deposited most of that bottle back onto me. My wife ran out of the room, presumably to get a towel. Instead she returned with a camera. Captured for posterity, the photo serves as a reminder that though parenting can be a joy, there’s also a gag reel.
Bill Burke is a writer who has a constitution of 17 with a plus-3 modifier on the 1d20 of life, who resides with his wife and daughter in Southern New Hampshire. He is also the Managing Editor of Custom Publications for McLean Communications.