It didn’t seem like such a terrible idea at the outset. I mean, it didn’t seem like a good idea, but not terrible either. Max had been running a fever all day, since he woke up complaining of hot and cold all over his body at 6 a.m. So, given that Zora had suffered the same symptoms a few days before, with nothing but a little coughing and high fever, I figured Max could use some orange juice and a hearty lunch. Given that my cooking is rarely considered “hearty”, and that the nice Sino-Dominican folks down the street do such a nice job with rice & beans and fried plantains, I decided to lug the kiddos the two blocks down to the comedor (a mini cafeteria of sorts, with the traditional Dominican lunch) and colmado (the ubiquitous corner stores, most prized for their willingness to deliver anything. Alas, I had no phone that day).
Now, Max had a fever but the Tylenol was starting to kick in, so I slapped some sunglasses and a baseball cap on the poor boy and out we went into the bright, 85 degree day. With Zora in tow, vociferously protesting her demotion to “walker” (Oh, I’m sorry your majesty, but I’m not going to carry you this one time because your brother is sick!), I lugged my surprisingly heavy 6 year old down Calle 7. Once we reached our destination, I set my two lovely offspring in the green plastic chairs usually reserved for the dudes perpetually chillin’ out front.
I went off to order lunch, confident that the fresh air and shady lookout post would do him good. I got all of our food and as I strolled over to the colmado for drinks, Max stopped me. “Dad,” he moaned. “I kinda feel like I might throw up.”
Viewing this as a purely theoretical possibility, I told him, “Well buddy, if you need to, just lean forward and let it out onto the sidewalk there. Be careful not to hit that guy’s motorcycle.”
“Okay Dad,” he replied, and just as I turned to order the drinks, I heard the tell-tale sound, unmistakable as can be, of my sweet little boy purging himself of any and all stomach contents. Let’s just say I was glad I’d worn sandals, as Max let it all out, on my feet, on his feet, and most importantly, on the concrete in front of him.
As I rubbed his back to comfort him while he finished up, I looked around me and saw a small crowd staring straight at me, a self-evident look on their faces. One of the things I love about this country is how much Dominicans love kids. We rarely have an outing that does not include a few “God bless your child” and several “Amens”, because people see children as such a vital part of life. Therefore, the look on people’s faces, and the comments emanating from them, were a combination of two sentiments: 1) Oh, that poor little kiddo! ¡Dios le bendiga! and 2) What the hell kind of parent are you?! Get your sick kid home and take care of him!In the end, Max was just fine, and I learned an important lesson: Listen to my kids.