When my daughter, A, was about 4 months old, she spiked a high fever. Her first fever, actually. It was late on a snowy Sunday night, so after waking my husband from his deep sleep, we decided to call our pediatrician’s help line instead of heading to the ER in the snow. The patient woman on the other line asked me basic questions: How old was she? How long had she had the fever? What was the last thing she ate, what was it and how much? Was she able to keep anything down? Was there a rash? I frantically answered with tears streaming down my face. I was told to strip A down to her diaper and take her temp every 5 minutes. If it rose, head to the ER immediately. If it stayed the same or went down, call them back in 15 minutes for an update. I did as they asked and carried her downstairs to get a cold compress.
This is when I had my Exorcist moment.
I turned her to face me, she opened her mouth, and out spewed, what seemed like, a billion gallons of liquid. My glasses were covered, excess dripping off onto my nose and then onto my lips – thank God my mouth was closed. With a lovely stench becoming stronger by the second, I managed to put her soaked body – everything bounced off of me and back onto her – in the sink and wipe my face and glasses. Expecting the worst when I could see the damage, what did I actually find? A baby laughing at me and two dogs lapping up what was obviously a delicious meal. Very gross, but very funny. Even when my husband came down to check on us, all we could do was laugh. Really, what else is there to do?
As parents we take on these Candid Camera-worthy moments whether we like them or not. We don’t have a choice, and I know you all know what I’m taking about. Maybe it was that extremely messy diaper that made you consider taking (or did take) scissors to your child’s onesie rather than try to slide it up and over the child’s head. Maybe it’s the moment your child grabbed the spoon and flung peaches on the ceiling. Maybe it was the moment you turned your head away for a second only to turn it back and find one of your dog’s tails in your daughter’s mouth.
I’ve met some moms and dads that take parenting so seriously, and I really think they’re missing out. Life is messy. No one is perfect. Laughter is the best medicine. Apply your favorite cliché here. What are we teaching our children when we don’t let them experience life’s blooper reel? Being able to laugh at one’s self, and to know when it’s appropriate to laugh at someone else, is an important skill that all children should learn.
For parents, though, laughing is a great way to let out the stress. Laughter lowers blood pressure, it increases vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood. It reduces certain stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline and increases the response of tumor- and disease-killing cells such as Gamma-interferon and T-cells.
The only thing I regret about the projectile vomiting experience is not taking a picture to capture the moment; that something embarrassing to pull out on the night of her first date or high school graduation; that moment in time to laugh at all over again and remember “the good ole’ days.” Okay readers, what was you Exorcist-equivalent moment?