With a birthday in early November Jane starts getting excited about her birthday just before Halloween. She’s a happy child, perhaps the happiest I know and she’s always been convinced that Halloween was a party thrown by the world for her pleasure. She starts smiling around October 25th and doesn’t really stop ever. She just smiles a lot more around this time of year.
The birthday party this year was supposed to be a quick weekend trip to Palm Springs with three friends. Last year I took Jane and the three friends to a hotel in town and it was quite possibly the easiest birthday ever and the girls had a fabulous time. Easy, fun, obviously I was hoping for a repeat. It quickly became apparent that they’re all too busy to schedule a full weekend so Jane opted for a last minute in-town sleepover at our house.
This is actually sort of easy too. I offered to make dinner, order in or walk to any of the restaurants that are nearby. Jane opted for a walk so we took one to a restaurant that served family style. She thought that would be fun, and it was.
My daughter has atrocious table manners. I don’t say that because she doesn’t know better. We had dinner at Chinois Friday night and she was a perfect lady but something about getting her at a table with a dozen teenage friends turns my sweet Jane into a wildebeest with a spoon. She plays with her tea, gargles her water and ignores her silverware in favor of picking penne off the plate and gesticulating wildly with her hands (and her penne) while enjoying the company of her friends. I blame summer camp. We civilized her and then camp undid it all. I like to think this can’t possibly be my fault. At the same moment I feel smug and secure knowing that no boys will want to date the penne waving girl, or so I hope.
After dinner we headed back to the house for some candy corn cake. Ross’ was different, probably more elegant but mine was nice too.
The girls then went to jump on the trampoline and swim in the pool. If you use your imagination you can see where this is heading.
At 12.30 everyone was in sleeping bags and the girls were actually sleeping on the trampoline (don’t ask). At 1am I yelled out my bedroom window for them to be quiet or come in and sleep in the playroom.
At 1.30 Jane was waking me up. Her friend Jane was vomiting in the bathroom. She mostly hit the toilet. I grabbed gloves, a spray bottle and paper towels (which I’d purchased for the first time in ages because I much prefer rags) and started cleaning the bathroom. I felt Jane’s head for a fever and we concluded that she was just sick from too much activity. I tucked her in to sleep on the sofa and went back upstairs.
Just as I fell into a deep sleep my Jane was tapping me awake again. Her friend Jane had vomited all over the sofa, coffee table and living room floor. Mercifully these are all wood or leather surfaces and although cleanup wasn’t fun it wasn’t as hideous as it could have been. We had her call home and I cleaned while we waited for her dad to fetch her.
I crawled back into bed at about 2am and feel deeply and soundly asleep. A few minutes after 3am Jane woke me up again only this time I jumped. She tapped me and I screamed a little and jumped out of bed because I was so deeply asleep and so painfully tired that my body just reacted that way. I woke up Mr. G which is something I never want to do on a Saturday night, the guy has to be in the office at the crack of dawn on Sunday…
Jennifer was standing in my kitchen looking weepy. She’d vomited in the sink. We called her mom and felt her head. I scrubbed down the kitchen counter as much as I could but my eyes would hardly open and it’s hard to see things on the speckled granite. Without being too graphic I can tell you that neither child ate cake but both had eaten salad.
Jennifer lives about 20 minutes away so Jane and I sat up with her while we waited for her mother to come get her. It was awful for everyone. I slunk upstairs and couldn’t even get back to sleep so I turned on my iphone and checked facebook for my New York friends and this was at the top of my feed.
The reality is that things are pretty good. Yes, two kids got sick but neither of them are sickly. Yes, I had to clean up vomit in three locations but how lucky am I that I’m not in a flood zone like New Jersey. Yes, I’ll be tired the next day. I’m the luckiest woman in the world because I can take a nap.
All is well here and all is not well in every town in America right now. Not even close to well. All is pretty fucked up, so I made the decision to be incredibly grateful. Which was smart of me because I’d need gratitude.
Sometime around 4am Jane was back in my room trying to wake me up. She was telling me that Jennifer had puked in the bathtub (or so I heard) and I begged Jane to just pull the bathroom door shut and let me sleep. When I woke up at 7 I was told that it wasn’t Jennifer who was ill, but rather Anna and her mother had come for her at 4.30am and Jill had gone home sick too but not vomiting. I felt horrible that there was a 13 year old girl puking her guts up with no one to comfort her but you can’t turn back time. What’s done is done.
The morning was spent scouring the house. The bathroom was unspeakable, but again there’s nothing in there but tile and porcelain so it came clean with relative ease. I washed the windows over the kitchen sink and bleached everything in sight. A cup of pens and pencils was discarded and the girls who weren’t sick just looked at me with pity in their eyes and two even offered to help. These are good girls.
When the last guest headed home I called the restaurant to let them know that we had illnesses after eating their food and the manager explained to me that it was an impossible timeline and there’s no way that their food was responsible. I remain unconvinced and the NIH supports me.
After the phone call Jane showed me the gifts her friends gave her. In addition to being quite generous they were personal and showed that these girls know each other well and took time to think of what she’d like. Before dropping for a marathon nap Jane looked at me and said, “I love my friends so much. They gave me all these great gifts and we gave them food poisoning.”