Long Drives & Family Gag Reflexes (Not for the Weak-Stomach)

WARNING: This post is not for readers with a weak-stomach. It’s for those of us who laugh our butts off (not literally unfortunately or I’d have the tiniest derriere this side of the Mississippi!) at those who have strong gag reflexes! Yes, here’s another story that reflects MY side of the family’s warped sense of humor.

This is about people like my husband who has a strong gag reflex that he OBVIOUSLY passed on to our children and who doesn’t think it’s one bit funny when I laugh til I cry as he gags (ya gotta hear him gag) when a little hard thing in his burger finds its way into his mouth. BUT, even the Sarge belly laughs over the chain reaction gagging we get out of The Boys and the Old Soul!

So here’s my latest experience with our infamous family gag reflex.

Our story begins on the long and winding road (you know that song?) home from the James Taylor concert that I was pseudo-forbidden to go to by our Pediatrician. Actually it was the camping, not the concert, he was against after our stay in the hospital. But, I finally got a “not no” answer for the concert without the camping which I took as yes and jumped in the mini-van for a 3-hour drive… a 3-hour drive (are you singing that part to the tune of the Gilligan’s Isle theme song?). We drove straight up to Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts to see our collective family-favorite artist perform in a lawn concert. Come on, life doesn’t get any better than that, does it? So we enjoyed the heck out of the concert, packed up our oxygen and slept a few hours in a hotel overlooking the Mass Pike before heading home bright and early the next morning. My good intentions were to stop at McDonald’s for a quick breakfast — I didn’t say healthy intentions — as I just wanted to quickly feed the crew. But our GPS brought us WAAAAAAY off the beaten track and then inconveniently lost the satellite leaving us just as lost as the Skipper and his passengers on the Minnow… Right smack in the middle of no where! I tried to backtrack as much as I could remember and finally happened upon a nearly-deserted truck stop cafe. We took more time than I wanted to sit while The Boys ate their favorite breakfast of pancakes (though not my home-made chocolate, chocolate chip pancakes) while the Old Soul enjoyed her beloved bacon and eggs.

FINALLY and painstakingly done with every delicious bite, we headed out as the GPS directed us once again through the deep countryside for miles and miles of twisting country roads intermittently losing and finding it’s signal. When I was thoroughly sure we were hopelessly lost I spied the little green highway sign for the Taconic Parkway — our planned route home, but one I was sure I wasn’t going to see again. Massively relieved to be finally on a known, major roadway, pointing steadfastly in the right direction and productively on our way home, I put the pedal to the metal to meet the increased 65 mph speed limit. Within minutes we were zooming along the scenic Taconic when Michael began with a small little cough. When you have 3 children recovering from pneumonia, a small little cough here and there is to be expected. But this one persisted, as though My Little Man had something stuck in his throat. (Probably one of those pneumonia-producing mucous plugs I swore didn’t exist because he never coughed up a thing during his 15 days in the hospital!) I suggested he take a drink of his readily available apple juice and he obliged. But soon thereafter, the cough escalated to a near-but-not-quite choke. I scanned the horizon for a place to stop, seeing only the “15 miles to next exit” sign in view. For those who have never traveled the Taconic, there’s much beauty but NO amenities on this road… and NO SHOULDER! With budget cuts in New York State, the road crews barely cut back the tall grasses and weeds on the sides of the roads these days… I kid you not. So, as the cough became a choke and the choke became a gag there was literally NO WHERE for me to pull over! Not for another 15 miles!

The gagging worsened and the Old Soul began yelling, “Mom, he’s going to throw up! Do something!” I’m sure she wasn’t happy about it, but she was right and there wasn’t a thing I could do! He finally blew and projectile vomited all over the back of the car. With steep gullies and woods on either side of the road there was STILL NO WHERE FOR ME TO PULL OVER safely or otherwise! I certainly couldn’t stop in-lane on a well-traveled 65mph highway! So I prayed he wouldn’t choke and we both continued, the Little Man vomiting and me driving, frantically looking for a break in nature! Either his vomiting or the trees!

And here’s the truly laugh-out-loud funny part: As the Little Man vomited, the Big Little Man looked on and began to gag himself. He gagged louder and louder and longer and longer, watching his little broey throw up. Not able to take his eyes off of the gruesome scene he continued gagging, sounding just like his dear old Dad. Long guttural gags that started in the toes and growled their way out of his little body sounding like they were coming out of a 200-lb, nearly 40-year-old man… just like his Daddy! Seriously LMBOing! Ultimately the Old Soul succumbed with her own gagging as I yelled at them both to, “LOOK AWAY! DON’T WATCH!” while still trying to vocally comfort my poor Little Man who, I could see in the rear view mirror, was still blowing his breakfast all over the car. My back seat was a scene straight out of a Monty Python movie! Me? I was crying — because I was laughing so hard — still searching the roadway for the break I needed that FINALLY came.

I barely fit the car onto the little strip of mowed grass (probably where the State Troopers sit as a jump-off to catch speeders). I couldn’t get out the driver’s side as my door would have been ripped from it’s hinges by passing cars flying by at 65+ mph. I couldn’t get out the front passenger door as the space was fully occupied by the huge oxygen-making machine loaned to us by the hospital, blocking my access. So I climbed into the fray of the back seat only to realize the sliding door was child-locked from the inside. COME ON! Back up front, hospital-property be damned, I climbed over the machine, out the door and threw open the sliders. The Big Little Man still gagging, the Old Soul staring out the opposite window as if ignoring the chaos beside her, trying to keep her mind from thinking about what was happening and barely able to control her gag reflex, while the Little Man sat quietly amidst the wreckage. Yeah, now he stops!

I quickly check the glove compartment, under the seats, in the door and seat pockets… There is not a single napkin or paper towel in the entire vehicle! THAT never happens! I horde fast food napkins for such occasions! But the Sarge took my bus through the car wash and cleaned up inside for the trip. Love that guy, but this time his timing was impeccable! With 2 potty-trained little men, my mind did not automatically go to wet wipes but did ultimately recall the bag tucked underneath the back seat with a few spare diaps, undies and half-used container of wipes.

Thankfully, JUST before the melee, I’d told the boys to take off their shoes and socks and settle in for a comfortable trip. So my Little man was barefoot. I sponge bathed the Little Man’s legs, arms and face with wet wipes; carefully removed his shorts, wiped down his booster and covered the damp seat with a couple of the spare diapers laid open. For the first time in my 8 years as a mother, I was grateful for the projectile part of vomiting because the only clean shirt we had was the one he was wearing and it was still, miraculously SPOTLESS! Through my own intermittent fits of laughing and gagging, I was able to clean up the car to the point where the Old Soul was actually able to look without gagging herself and compliment me, “Wow Mom. You did a good job with just a few wipes!”

After I tied the knot on the garbage bag and we got underway again, my beautiful little girl expressed how dumbfounded she was at how I could stand to clean up such a HUGE and disgusting mess… and why in the holy heck was I laughing while I did it. I explained first that I just kept telling myself, “it’s just spilled pancakes and apple juice” because that’s all The Little Man had eaten! Then, laughing at the thought, I added that someday, when she was cleaning up after one of her own children who had thrown up, she’d remember THIS day, and remember me laughing and would laugh about it herself. She hesitated and then replied,

“I don’t think so!”

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About Maggie

I'm a stay-at-home mother of 3 children including a 15-year-old daughter, the Old Soul, and 11-year-old identical twin boys who've been blessed with an extra 21st chromosome (aka: Down Syndrome). I happily spend my time doing all that I can do -- breaking the proverbial box wide open -- to foster my children's development and then sharing what I learn with you through this blog.
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4 Responses to Long Drives & Family Gag Reflexes (Not for the Weak-Stomach)

  1. Cindy says:

    Hilarious!!!!! I've taken a few road trips in my time, but nothing quite like this!!!

  2. Stacy says:

    That was a memory in the making for sure!!!! I am laughing cause our hubbies sound almost identical with their horrible gagging.

  3. Jess Parsons says:

    Giggled to myself the whole way through – both my kids have had reflux and Miss 2.5 still does especially when coughing from germs as well! Had our first long car trip when she wasn't quite well, and once in both directions(!) I goofed in handing her a favourite snack that was too dry and cornery and I'm sure you can guess what happened.I also have a DH who cleans everything out of my car before taking it for a service or registration and then I get to put everything useful (raincoats, toys) back in. Definitely a mixed blessing.

  4. Sarah says:

    We had the same thing happen on our trip this summer at the end of a 12hr car trip. What is it about projectile vomit? We weren't so lucky and it was all over a carseat (that I had to clean the next day YUCK!)! I definitely was not like you and laughing!We did have a Maggie Moment not to long ago. We were cringy while watching a group of ducks cross a busy intersection. We were about ready out to aid them and they flew off to safety. Chris and I both looked at each other and said "Maggie Moment!" You are influencing people one by one daily in great ways!

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