Star light, star bright, don’t be sick and sleep at night!


Birthday season is upon us again. My husband said to me this morning, at 00:01, as we were just dialling our daughter’s telephone number: “I can’t believe we are old enough to have a 22 year old daughter.”

I wish I could have answered that I don’t look old enough. Those were the days! But now, my middle age spread is, well, spreading. Fast! For a while, I’ve tried to convince myself that I would, one day, be a slip of a girl again. To be honest, for the last 21 years I’ve kept the dress I wore to my eldest daughter’s very first birthday party. I’m not just a hoarder. I did actually wear the dress. But the last couple of years, I had trouble waving about my arms and well just breathing. So I gave it to her last week. It was slightly too big. I may have stretched it… But I assured the slip of a girl that she would grow into it… One day.

So this is her 22nd Happy Birthday. I can tell you, some of them have been eventful. On one of them, we were singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and I was carrying the cake across the room to her, as I approached her to blow out her candles, she didn’t blow, she threw… Up. I’m not sure if it was the sight of all that carefully placed sugar or if it was just excitement. But the cake got tossed to the side and a bucket was grabbed. We videoed it and sent it to You’ve Been Framed. But they sent it right back again without giving us our £250. I was gutted to be honest. I laughed hysterically every time I played it back. But I guess it was far too graphic for public consumption on a family show.

On another birthday, we had the camcorder out again, my ex and I. He was standing there filming, as I ushered her into the room. We’d built up her present, a bike, and carefully covered it with sheets, so she could still unwrap it. Then presents and cards that had arrived in the post, were strategically placed around the big, exciting, surprise. We entered the room and my ex impulsively shouted, “Come and open your bike!!!!” And I almost killed him, right there, on the spot. Seriously. If you go and visit him, there is recorded evidence of it somewhere in his house…

From Birthday One, Joni loved a party. She loved the food, the dressing up, the food, the guests, the food, the games, the cake, being centre of attention and the presents. So the night before her Sweet Sixteenth she got really excited. She’d planned a massive party. Not only had she invited all of her friends, she’d also invited all of mine. We planned to barbeque on two barbeques simultaneously. The fridge was full of meat. I always make too much food because I am petrified of someone feeling hungry, so in actual fact, there was far too much meat for the masses of people she’d invited. Then, in the early hours of her 16th, she started to vomit. And vomit and vomit. In all fairness, she really did puke rings around herself. We did not film it. We cleaned rings and walls and carpets and changed bedsheets and disinfected buckets. And we mopped up tears. Then, from the exact moment politeness allowed, we starting telephoning each and every party guest to cancel. We did not know if she was infectious. We did not know if we were infectious. We did not know how long she would continue to be sick. These questions were answered promptly. As soon as all the calls were finished, she made a miraculous recovery. She was, what’s described in your medical encyclopedia as ‘right as rain’. Physically, that is. Mentally, she crumpled. Luckily, she had invited my friends. And some of them are fearless of bacteria. They are utterly convinced they will never get sick. Besides they know Joni. And they knew that she had recently been to Budapest, where she’d been so excited to be there, she’d thrown up all over her host’s carpet in the middle of her first night. We’d been chatting at the time on the phone. She’d wanted me to know that she’d arrived safely. That the exchange family were lovely. That everything was tickety-boo. Then suddenly she felt nauseous. The phone was chucked to one side, she leapt up and hurled. For several minutes, I listened helplessly to retching noises. She in Hungary, I in Germany. Together, yet so far apart. I couldn’t hold back her hair. I listened as someone else scrubbed up the mess and she cried and apologised. After many minutes, I found myself stuck with the conundrum: should I hang up the phone? Should I keep listening? Is this really supportive? Or is it just plain creepy? Would anyone ever remember I was still on the phone? Should I shout? Would kind words, after the fact, help anyone at all, anyway? Would I ever get any sleep? How long is long enough? Would my own British politeness mean, that I was never actually able to hang up the phone? Then I heard someone shuffling towards me. It was the hostess. Of course, being British, I apologised profoundly. Then they handed me to Joni. Who was tired and embarrassed, but apart from that, right back on track again.

Joni’s ability to empty her stomach at important life events has become a trademark. A party piece if you will.  Exams – check. Birthdays – check. Presentations – check. Travelling – check. First dates – check. I have forwarned her that on her wedding day, there will be no make-up and no dress until all of the sickness is out of the way. Beauticians and lady’s maids will be poised for the last minute dash to slop slap on her face and tug her wedding dress over her head, in an attempt to get her to the town hall on time.

Today, I hope, will be an exception. She celebrated into her birthday with a few college friends, and after a little sleep and a lot of classes we’ll descend upon her and take her out to dinner. I, for one, am really looking forward to it.

To my first born: Happy Birthday! Continue to be the bright and shining star that you are. Live, love and be happy. ❤

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17 thoughts on “Star light, star bright, don’t be sick and sleep at night!”

  1. That’s quite a talent….to be able to hurl on cue. Funny story, except at the time it happened, that is. Good to hear from you again Sarah.

  2. Lovely photos! Thank you for sharing and for the write. Wait until you have a granddaughter who will be 22 in a matter of months and has two little ones herself! But you have a long way to go so no worries! Enjoy them while they are still young. My oldest son is 45. It just never seems real. 😉

    1. It’s crazy how fast the time goes. You blink – you miss it! I must admit, I so look forward to being a grandmother. I will dote, make them hyper and then give them back!!

  3. It’s so good to see you writing again! I laughed out loud many times 🙂 Not least in sympathy, because I have a child who vomits messily. Thankfully, the other one is the neatest vomiter known to man (I take my blessings where I find them).

    I hope we hear more of you xxx

    1. I know exactly what you mean!!! My second one is a neat vomiter too!! Well generally. One time though, she did manage to hit my arm and half of the lounge floor (and my arm!!!!!!). And when she had meningitis… I took her to the doctor as she had a terrible headache. I’d been giving her extra to drink as there was a heatwave. Her drink of choice, at the time, was this kind of fruits of the forest drink… So it was bright green!!! The doctor was examining her and hey presto, she puked this ominous green fountain all over the bed, the bowl, the floor and of course the doctor (who was naturally dressed from head to toe in white!!). The doctor needed to be treated for shock afterwards. 😉
      We always bring that story up….

    1. Thank you!! On both counts!!! I do intend to revisit your blog, promise!! I am completely snowed under with kids and work and kids at the moment. xxxx

  4. Sarah,
    I could happily carry out emergency surgery on someone if a doctor talked me through the procedure, it wouldn’t phase me. In fact I was rather miffed that I didn’t get to watch my foot operation, I am fascinated by what happens inside human beings and “blood and guts” doesn’t bother me at all.

    Oddly enough though, I can not handle anyone, man nor beast, throwing up. I’m terrible… the smell and sound of someone retching does only one thing: sets me off in full force too.

    I hate throwing up too, ugh… never never never ever if I can possibly help it. Sadly I suffer from terrible motion sickness: cars, trains, buses, boats, I have to have a ton of fresh air, travel sickness pills, wrist bands, the front seat of the car… and even then some days on winding mountainous roads are a nightmare.

    As a kid my parents learned that “stop the caaaar….” from the back seat meant they had about 30 seconds to pull over and get the door open, so eventually many of our longer trips started very early in the morning, and I slept in the back seat.

    Thankfully both of my kids throw up very rarely and when they have it’s always Himself who has to come to the rescue.

    I’m a bit late, but Happy Belated 22nd Birthday Joni… you are as the others mentioned, a beautiful young woman. I’m glad to hear that your your Birthday dinner was enjoyed… …and, even better … retained !!! 🙂

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