We are both a little shocked. Silent and and still and staring at the pile of vomit on the bare, stained old mattress with the stupid pink and blue floral pattern. Just the day before, when the doctor said he had asthma, I had already decided to get rid of the damn thing and all its stains and dust mites and who knows what else. The mattress used to belong to my grandpa. We got the bed too, but the frame had broken after a couple of years of our use, so Eldest was sleeping on the mattress and box spring on the floor. I'm sure the springs are broken; it creaks and dips suddenly when you struggle off it. My grandpa's been dead for years, longer than Eldest has been alive, so who knows how old the damn thing is.
So I stare at that pile of vomit, and I just want to take that awful mattress out to the curb right now. Eventually, I take Eldest to the bathroom, and he rinses his mouth with water and I go to my husband who has the not-sleeping baby, and I start to cry. I cry that Eldest is still in that bathroom by himself while I cry out here. I don't want him to see me crying because it might scare him and I do because then he'll know this really matters to me. I cry that I tried to wrestle an inhaler onto my panicking child, wrestled until he had a coughing fit and vomited. I cry, because of all the people in the world, I should have known better. I cry, because I had a moment when I thought this just isn't going to work; I should just give up and talk to the doctor about alternatives or sedatives since he's not having asthma attacks or wheezing. Then I thought, like a thug, No. I should pin him down. I cry because as I struggled to pin him down (for his own good), and he writhed and kicked and screamed, I felt anger. I cry because I feel ashamed, and it's not something I've felt, as a parent, for a very very long time.
This morning he said his shoulders hurt. No, I lie. What he actually said was that I hurt his shoulders.
I go back to the bathroom when I'm still crying, and he registers my tears. We hug, he rinses his mouth, I apologize and explain and apologize some more. He comes to the door of my bedroom while I change my shirt, a small smile playing on his lips.
I wonder if it's a victory smile now that we've given up on the inhaler. But no.
"I'm just thinking about how much I liked the taste of your turkey chili tonight. But not so much when it came back up."