Jack Zaleski, Published February 13 2011
Zaleski: Smiling through the puke with triplets
Little McKenna Faith had gobbled up too many pistachio nuts – her first experience with the salty snacks. Her stomach rebelled. She crawled up in my lap, looked up at me with sad eyes, and said, “Boppi (that’s what the girls call their grandfather), I don’t feel so good.” Her mom handed me a plastic bucket.
McKenna then launched into a double-barreled hurl that emptied her tiny stomach in two separate but equally impressive heaves. To my relief, her aim into the bucket was precise.
It was over quickly. Her eyes welled up with tears, but her stomach settled down. She said, “I won’t eat pizzstackio nuts anymore, because I’m allergicky. They made me sick.”
Yes, I said, you must be allergicky. But you’re OK now, right?
“Uh huh,” she said, “but I might puke again.”
That’s when “puke” and all its variations became the official triplet terms for blowing lunch – even as mother tried to discourage its use. She wanted her little ladies to say “vomit” or “throw up.” But with coaching from their grandfather, “puke” emerged as the favorite. They began to use it regularly with all the innocent gusto only little kids can summon. If “puke” can be cute, the triplets did it.
Not to be outdone by her sister, Bennett Sage called last week to report her upset stomach episode. “Boppi, I was sick, and I puked three times,” she said in her small voice. “Three times,” she said, “just like McKenna did when she was sitting in your lap, but I did three times …”
She sounded positively proud that she’d hurled more than her sister had. Talk about competition among siblings.
Do you feel OK now? I asked.
“Yes,” she said, “I feel good ’cause I puked three times …”
Got it, I said.
Sister Harper Dakota, the more analytical of the three, took the phone. “I did not puke,” she said.
Good for you, I said. Are you feeling OK?
“I feel OK,” she said, “but I don’t want to puke. My sisters can, but I don’t want to. It makes my tummy hurt. But if I do, can I sit on your lap, like McKenna …?”
What amazing little girls. There I was, having a conversation about puking – and enjoying every second of it. Geez, I thought. The last time I talked seriously about puking was in college, but that’s another story, and the memory is hazy.
You know, the more I get into this grandfather stuff, the more I like it. The more I surprise myself. Nice surprises.
Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at (701) 241-5521.