The week my parents made their trek back across the ocean, the girls and I were supposed to meet them to say goodbye. However, in an unfortunate turn of events, we didn’t get to say goodbye. We didn’t get one last hug or one last moment. Instead, we got a cab full of vomit and eyes full of tears.
As I cleaned like a mad woman (because, if you know me, you know I cannot leave my house overnight without it being sterile), packed the bags, and prepared for 5 days in the beautiful, sunny, Maui of China, my heart was beyond excited. The girls and I had been home alone for 8 days at this point while my parents and Cam were in Sanya. We were impatient to get there. When I picked the girls up from the bus stop, Ellie said her belly kind of hurt but that she had just drank half of Gracie’s water bottle on the bus. When we came up to the house and Ellie passed on a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie (because of course I made two different kinds of cookies to take to the friends in Sanya who had been living on Chinese food for 8 days), I should have known.
We hailed a taxi and headed to the airport. As the driver was pulling up to the curb to drop us off, I heard the sound that every mother dreads…the sound of your baby puking in any place other than a toilet. As I began, in very jumbled Chinese, trying to explain to the driver what was happening, he turned and saw. His whole countenance changed and steam began to come out of his ears. I told him I would give him some money, and he quickly agreed (of course). I owed him 62 kuai and had handed him 70. As I tried to give him a 100 and take my 70 back, he yanked the 100 and the 50 and began yelling at me in rapid-fire Chinese that I didn’t understand. That means this cab ride cost me over $30usd. It should have been $10. At this point, I didn’t care, and truthfully, his cab was FULL of vomit and he was not going to be able to pick up any more passengers. It was nasty. And I will admit, part of me was very thankful it wasn’t my car that had just been tainted.
I unloaded our bag, and turned to see how Ellie was faring. She was covered. It was dripping from her backpack, and her pants were soaked. In China, the bathrooms don’t have toilet paper or paper towels. So, like any sane person would do, I threw both her panties and her pants in the garbage can, then bathed her in bubblegum antibacterial hand gel and put her in clean undies. The next stop was a shop to find plastic bags to catch the next round, if there was one. Then I had the decision to make of whether or not to cancel our flight. If I canceled, we would have to endure another 45 minute cab ride home and we would miss seeing my parents one last time (knowing that we wouldn’t see them again for at least a year). As I began to think aloud, Gracie started crying. She misses family the most. She struggles the most. She needed this goodbye.
Ellie seemed great. She said she felt great and her tummy didn’t hurt. We still had more than 2 hours before out left left, so I took them to McDonalds to test out the belly. The way I see it, if you can stomach McNasty’s, you can’t possibly be sick. And stomach it she did. An hour later, I decided she was fine and that it must have been motion related or something. We got in line and began the process of getting our boarding passes. As I was about to take the tickets and hand over my bag to be checked, I looked over and Ellie was ghostly pale. As my shoulders sagged and tears welled in my eyes, I told the clerk that my daughter was sick and that we couldn’t go. She canceled our passes and with heavy hearts, we went about the process of canceling the actual tickets. In Chinese. As I was crying.
I won’t lie. I was done at this point. I was going home to pack, and we were heading back to the land of Chick-Fil-A.
I dragged the bag and my sad children to hail the second cab of the day. As I approached the first guy, he looked at me smiled and asked where to. I told him and he quoted me a price almost double what it should be. I told him to use his meter, and he replied that it was broken. I said no and went to the next in line. As I was walking, that cabbie called the one I was headed to and told him to say the same price. We went through the same conversation, with the same result. Three times.
With crocodile tears and anger at the entire Chinese race, I stomped away. Finally, I found someone who would use his meter. He was so kind and helpful and made me feel a little bit guilty about my hatred. I let some of it slip away and started up a conversation with this nice man. When he asked where we had gone, I started crying. Then Gracie started crying. And Ellie just sat there holding her puke bag under her face (that she had not had to use again thankfully).
We made it home before Ellie puked again, and at 3am, Faith started. So, while I was thankful to be home with my sick babies, my heart was broken and I realized once again just how hard this life can sometimes be.