The car wasn’t ours. It was my mother-in-law’s.
We parked in our friends’ driveway, and then tried to clean the car properly and get rid of the awful smell. This is where I learned:
8. Febreeze is wholly ineffective against vomit.
I read all about Febreeze in a book called The Power of Habit. It was magical stuff. It got people dates. I think it even led to more than one marriage! It was so good that it fixed everything.
WRONG. Febreeze is no match against vomit. I know this because we sprayed copious amounts of it on the affected areas and left the car windows open all night. But the next day, the horrific smell was still there.
This presented a problem, because that day, we had to give the car back to my mother-in-law. My husband’s parents live about an hour and a half outside of Washington D.C. We had stayed closer to the city with friends for the first part of the trip, but we were spending the last few days with my in-laws.
As we drove, inexorably drawing nearer to our doom, my husband and I wondered, “Should we tell her about the vomit? Or should we try to clean it again and just skip town, praying that she will never know?” This presented quite the moral dilemma. What would you do?
When we arrived at his parents’ house, we quickly got out of the car and went inside, pretending that everything was just fine and dandy–nothing to see here, folks–just move along. We had dinner and got the kids settled. Then as soon as his parents went to bed, my husband and I high-tailed it back into the garage, this time with a box of baking soda and toothbrushes in hand, to make one last desperate attempt to salvage his mother’s car. This is where I was reminded that:
9. Vomit is not fun to clean up.
I know this is not a revelation for anybody. As I mentioned, I am an expert in vomit, and I have cleaned it out of every place imaginable. But getting it out of cars where there are a million places for it to slide between and under is one of life’s most unpleasant experiences. So we washed and we scrubbed and we ground that baking soda into the carpet on the floor of the car and just PRAYED that it would work.
When we went to bed that night, I said to my husband, “We have to tell her. If we leave and don’t tell her and the car starts smelling, she’s going to know it was us.” My husband agreed. We had to come clean. But not yet.
The next day as we were driving around in the vomitous car with my mother-in-law at the wheel, my husband confessed. He told his mom that our daughter had hurled in her nice, new car.
We were met with silence. She said nothing for three long seconds. I was so afraid. But that’s when I learned:
10. You should tell your mother-in-law when someone throws up in her car.
She finally said, with compassion and understanding, “Your brother Ben used to do the same thing.” It turns out she understood all about car sickness and kids who threw up all over everything. I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief, grateful that we had told the truth.
Here’s the takeaway for you: The next time you want to get into a high-security building or just want everybody to leave you alone, read your child interesting facts about spiders and hot air balloons, and then sit back and watch the magic happen. No plastic bag necessary.
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