(NOTE: for the sake of our own sanity, we’ve completely misrepresented vomit as rainbows in all of this post’s images)

Being a father is about more than working hard to support your family and loving the crap out of your kids. It’s about cleaning up vomit. Pounds of it. If you don’t like to touch, smell like and potentially, accidentally swallow vomit – you’re not ready to be a father.

You think I’m kidding.

Dog and cat owners will gleefully tell you that nothing’s worse than when their dog coughs up a hairy pile in their living room. But dogs usually eat grass right before throwing up – and grass is a friggin’ treat compared to child-vomit. Even when cats eat birds whole and you find some thrown-up sparrow skeleton covered in cat hair – that’s still a cakewalk compared to the things children throw up.

You know you’re a real father when you realize one day that your carpet looks like cheetah fur and you don’t have a dog.

I’ve compiled for you a list – not of the worst things a kid can throw up – but of the worst “plain” foods. Anyone could tell you that it’s gnarly to clean up three-bean-chili-kid-barf. But as any parent knows, when you go to the doctor with a sick kid, they immediately tell you to stick to “plain” foods – things like white rice, plain toast, plain pasta. But even though it’s “plain” on the way down, it doesn’t mean it comes up that way.

Warning, this list is graphic. If you’ve got a hair trigger on your barf barrel, you might want to skip this list.

In no particular order, here are the worst “plain” foods to clean up.

Rice

You’d think rice would be easy to clean up. The problem is that it gets everywhere, and sticks because of the starch. How in Christ’s castle do you even clean vomited rice?! If you wipe it up like a puddle, grains come flying out of every side, and you end up mashing them into the carpet. If you try to pick it all up like solid food, you’re there for an hour with a spoon and a plastic grocery bag.

And it’s not the mess so much as the deception; you think you’ve got everything cleaned up, but somehow, your kid wakes up the next morning and there’s rice in his ear, his hair and in his stuffed animals’ clothes. So a month down the line, you’re wondering why Winnie the Pooh’s got rice matted to his stomach – ding ding ding.

Plus, rice is so small that it hides for awhile and then travels. You think you got it all, then it dries up, gets stuck to your kid’s foot, gets tracked into another room, and weeks later, you find it in your own bedroom. Or, worse – your kid throws up rice, you pick it all up and wash him off, then the next morning, he’s feeling better and hops in bed with you to cuddle – and you don’t notice that the little jerk’s left rice all over your bedsheet. So later that night you’re indulging in some love-making after the kid goes to sleep and someone ends up with dry, hard rice pressed into their ass. This isn’t terrible so much as confusing – and for whatever reason, you won’t remember that your kid threw it up the night before, so the accusations start flying as to why and how someone would get rice on their ass. You know, you’re naked, vulnerable, and want to make sure someone’s not crapping the sheets in the moment of passion. Totally normal.

For you filthy hippies – yes, this also applies to cous cous, quinoa, and bulgar wheat. I’m not sure people actually eat this stuff, but I see it in the grain section of the grocery store, so I thought I’d include it.

 

Pasta

As long as you fed your kid plain pasta (ya know, since the doc recommended plain foods), this isn’t all that bad of a clean-up.

But, when the doctor says “plain” pasta, it doesn’t sink-in and somehow you end up giving your kid pasta puttanesca (which coincidentally means “whore pasta”) or something even more sinister like tuna casserole. So, now you’ve got a spicy pile of diced-up noodles on your floor. The same quandary as rice applies here – you can’t scoop it up and you can’t pick it up. So you end up doing a combination of scooping, blotting and picking up the solids.

However you served it, pasta is unique in that it remains slippery when wet – but dries rigid and stronger than it was before you cooked it. After a nice throw-up session, there you are in your kid’s dark bedroom, trying to clean up pieces of rotini so you can get your kid back to bed. Naturally, some of it slips out of your hand, and lands back on the carpet. This doesn’t matter until the next night, when you’re putting your kid to bed – you walk him in his room, lay him down, and take a step back to admire your child’s serene beauty. All of the sudden, there’s searing pain shooting up from your feet. You, sir, just stepped on day-old pasta that’s not only stuck to the carpet, but dried in its jagged half-eaten shapes. Immediately, it’s like you’re John McClane and Hans and Karl just shot out the cubicle glass around you. So you hop up and down, trying not to scream “F**K F**K F**K” in your kid’s face as he’s winding down for sleep.

Plus, pasta sucks when you run it through the washing machine; no matter how much you think you got out of your clothes, you miss pieces all over, and the washing machine reactivates the starch in the pasta, which then glues itself to your clothes. Then you run your load through the dryer and two things happen – number one, the little jagged pieces of pasta dry to the worst possible parts of the worst possible articles of clothing. Number two, pasta ends up in the lint trap of the dryer, where, inevitably, it flies out when you remove the lint trap – and you end up stepping on it again. Days later, you get the wrath of washing-and-drying pasta when you jump into a pair of undies and scratch your penis on the dried pasta inside. It’s like the crap never goes away.

 

Toast

One of the most mild offenders is bread, but it wouldn’t have made this list if it didn’t have a terrible side effect. Bread comes out looking like chunky pudding, and sticks to things because the second it hits the air, it gets a skin to it. While this makes a bread puddle easier to pick up in one piece, bread is actually an edible sponge – so when it comes back up, it’s saturated with stomach acid, the smell of which, BTW, will make your eyes immediately water.

So, kid barfs bread. You’ve got about 30 seconds to get this stomach acid-scented napalm off the carpet before it soaks down into the fibers of the carpet. You’ve got to drop your kid like a sack of crap and use one of his crappy cardboard books to scrape the pile off the carpet, then throw a Sham-Wow over it, since those things pick up and hold 6,000 times their weight.

Only problem is, when you break the vomit-skin, you’d better be holding your breath. All that stomach acid that’s been churning inside your kid is now right in front of you, fermenting the half-digested bread as you’re standing there freaking out. If you look closely, you can actually see little steam-like wisps of disgust coming off of that hot stack of stomach slop.

The best part about bread-barf is that once it’s on your clothes, they’ve got to be hand-washed, and you’re on the clock in a major way. Because all of the stomach acids are being glued to your shirt, your clothes will be bleached before you can sooth your kid and get him cleaned-up. And once it’s on you, you’re almost incapacitated by the smell of it, but you can’t get it off. Basically, if you get bread-barf on your shirt, you have to pretend you’re on fire and throw that shirt off as soon as possible, preferably into an already-running washing machine. Don’t stop, drop and roll though because that’ll just grind in the stench.

And that’s that.

We’d cover the tools you need in order to clean up the mess, but all you can do at that point is kill it with fire. Good luck.