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Tales From The Crib

Unexpected worries on foreign trip

When you&

re preparing to travel to Europe with three little children for three weeks, there&

s a lot to worry about &

whether United will go out of business (this though you&

re flying on American but you forgot to check), whether your passport has expired (a concern that heaves you out of bed at 2 in the morning &

it doesn&

t until 2008), and whether the flower girl dresses you&

ve just spent your entire savings account on for your daughters will actually arrive before the plane takes off (they do).

But in this bevy of brooding there is one thing that does not cross your concerned mind: that every member of your family would get a Barfy Bug perfectly timed to coincide with the wedding you are crossing the Atlantic to attend.

That&

s what happened to us during the first week of our 3-years-in-the-works trip to France and Italy this summer.

First the baby got sick, vomiting his ice cream all over his shirt, my husband, and the floor of the small shop where we were buying groceries. (So how do you say, &

there&

s barf all over your store may I have a wet rag &

quick &

to clean it up?!&

in French?) Then Athena, 4, stayed up all of the next night with the same complaint. Pale with a glassy look in her eyes, she slept most of the next day on a couch in the drafty living room of the inn where we were staying while her 6-year-old sister, Vesperine, tooled around Villars-en-Azois with some little French compatriots, exploring the countryside and the chateau in what was my image of how our vacation would be. So I was sure after that the worst was over.

It wasn&

t.

The night before the wedding, Vesperine, too, was vomiting and having diarrhea. The next day, my silly rambunctious energetic 6-year-old couldn&

t get out of bed. And my husband wasn&

t feeling well either. We waited until the last possible moment to get dressed.

&

Mommy, what if I throw up on my new clothes?&

Vesperine asked, her droopy eyes worried.

&

You won&

t.&

But James wasn&

t so sure. In a pressed black linen suit with a sage shirt and pastel tie, he carried a gray plastic basin with us to the church.

&

What&

s that for?&

I asked.

&

In case she throws up,&

he said.

&

What are we going to do with it?&

I asked. &

Have her carry it down the aisle?&

Somehow Vesperine managed to walk with the other children of honor down the aisle to the bench in the front row reserved for them. And somehow she and her sister managed to sit quietly through an hour and a half traditional Catholic ceremony.

But James didn&

t.

He had to rush out of the church, eyes rimmed with purple bruises, skin clammy with sweat. He was so ill he never made it back to the wedding, and he missed the reception, dinner and party afterwards.

&

I&

m thirsty, I&

m so thirsty,&

Vesperine said, her eyes shiny with tears from the stress of sitting for so long, not knowing where I was (outside with the fussy baby doing triage for my sick husband). We stumbled over to the reception and I got her some fizzy water while the baby stuck his fingers in the gourmet hors d&

oeuvres and Athena tried to stifle her sobs, asking, &

Why did we have to sit on that bench for so long without knowing where you were Mommy?&

over and over again. A minute later Vesperine was back, also crying.

&

What is it?&

My tone was not kind. Handling three kids and worrying about James, I was starting to lose it.

&

I throwed up Mommy,&

she sobbed.

&

Oh, Honey.&

I felt instantly sorry for my impatience. &

On your dress?&

&

No, on a pile of rocks outside.&

&

Better now?&

&

Uh huh.&

The girls rallied at the party. The baby fell asleep on my shoulder and stayed asleep when I lay him in a crib in the chateau where there was a babysitter to watch him. I missed having my husband with me but nonetheless enjoyed every bit of my asparagus wrapped in the thinnest slice of local ham, the beuf-au-poivre, and the potatoes steamed to perfection. I didn&

t know then that I was destined to see the entire contents of the meal later on that night.

Next time we travel I won&

t waste my time worrying about airplanes and clothing. Instead, I&

ll bring some antacids and a thermometer, packed right next to the passports.