A few weeks ago my youngest daughter told me she wasn't feeling well as she was getting ready for school. Because she is a child who is prone to exaggeration about physical symptoms, I told her to eat breakfast and she would feel better. In addition, I had a packed day at work, and was already doing the mental gymnastics it would take to shuffle things around.
As we pulled into the driveway of the little girl's house that we carpool with, my daughter screamed from the backseat: "Throwing up!" I reached behind the seat and pulled an old folded Nordstrom's bag from the back pocket of the seat. My older daughter opened it and shoved it under her sister's mouth just in time.
I then told the mother of the child what had just happened and explained that I was still driving my older daughter to school, but that her daughter would have to come in my car at her own risk. Like any working moms given that choice, she made the only realistic decision she could at the moment and sent her daughter with me. I promised to keep them as far apart as possible. In the meantime, I tried to calm my little girl, telling her she had just earned a mommy-daughter day which would begin as soon as we dropped the other children off at school. I also called the doctor and got a mid-morning appointment.
We dropped off the child and my oldest daughter without incident, but just as I was pulling out of the carpool line, I heard another scream: "Throwing up again!" She yelled it as if I somehow had forgotten this was our second round. We got out of the car and ran into the main office restroom. On the way out I snagged a grocery bag which we ended up using before I even pulled out of the parking lot. At the exit to the parking lot, she yelled again that throw up was on its way.
At this point I was really in a panic. All the bags had been used, or so I thought. I had somehow managed to contain the throw up until this point, and now I feared that I was about to lose this round. I grabbed the glove compartment door, jerked it open and rummaged for something, anything, that might catch what was about to come out of my precious daughter's mouth.
Voila, a leftover air sickness bag from a flight several months prior had somehow managed to make its way into my car. This had been placed there at the advice of a babysitter whose father always snagged them when he flew just for this purpose. Problem solved.
When we arrived home, I got her into her pajamas, made a bed for her on the couch in front of the fireplace, and placed a trashcan next to her.
"Mommy, I'm sorry I threw up in your car," she said groggily, reaching up to hug me.
"It's OK, baby," I said rubbing her back, not worrying that what she had might be contagious. "Mommy is just happy we had enough bags to handle it. Which reminds me, time to put more bags in the car!"
Amanda is the mom of two girls, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.