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by Bitsy Parker
The parenting gig never works out as planned. A two-year Texas girl on vacation in New York City is dressed in her seasonally appropriate brown velvet dress. Her coordinating grosgrain bow is fixed in place, and she's the picture of children's fashion, during New York's Fashion Week, no doubt.
Caroline Jane is full of herself and preens about the soon to be torn down Plaza Hotel like a big shot. Earlier in the day she successfully escaped a nap and is feeling like she has won a big fight, which, in fact, she has. The children's tea service is ordered and includes little peanut butter and banana sandwiches along with fancy little sugary dessert treats.
Caroline, the child who has yet in her short life been offered the white, granular, good-stuff, is insistent on getting the over-the-top sugar treats displayed before her. It is late in the day and Caroline's mother is beaten down from horse carriage and carousel rides, and can muster no more than, "Sure, eat them all." How stupid.
Across the room it is difficult not to notice that there are cameras and microphones and some type of filming. A woman connected with the production approaches Caroline's mother and explains that ABC Nightly News is interviewing the illustrator of the Eloise books because, a new book entitled Eloise Takes a Bawth will be released in the coming week. The woman asks me if Caroline Jane can be interviewed about her impressions of Eloise. The producer wants her to look at and comment on the famous Eloise painting hanging in the hotel and then the film crew will shoot the illustrator signing a copy of the book to Caroline. "Sure," says mom. How big of a deal could that be?
Caroline and Mom set off to wash their hands before the big television debut, but on the way to the ladies room, Caroline Jane does something really weird. She sticks four fingers into her mouth and sets off a gag reflex followed by a maniacal laugh. "Stop that. That's strange." She does it again. "Quit it! That's weird." Again. "DOOOOO...NOT...DO...THAT... AGAIN!" She stops.
Thank goodness that freakish episode is over. Why would she do that and laugh? Strange.
Leaving the ladies room, Mom holding Caroline walks right into the ilming. The crew is ready for Caroline and the cameras are rolling. No direction. Immediate "action". A quick, low, verbal command from an unidentified person, "Look at the painting." Mother and daughter looking at the painting and making chit-chat, "What color is the bow in Eloise's hair?" "Red." answers the smart little girl. "Do you see a turtle?" Caroline Jane points and says so excitedly, "Turtle, Mommy. Turtle. Look, turtle. Puppy, mommy. Puppy" Oh, Mom feels good now. Caroline is doing everything right while being adorable and it's being filmed for the whole world to see!
Then, out of nowhere, Caroline sticks her four fingers down her throat and gags and laughs. Quietly, Mom murmurs into her ear, "Um, don't do that, honey." Again she does it again.
"Sweetie, let's keep our hands down. Look at that painting. What color is Eloise's dress?" Gag. The cameras continue to film and the interviewer approaches Mom and begins to talk. Keep in mind, this is all on camera. The interviewer is looking directly at Caroline Jane while she is doing this weird behavior and he pretends he doesn't see it. The sound lady is silently busting a gut.
Mom grabs Caroline's hands and tries to hold them. Then, for the last time, Caroline Jane gags herself. Only this time, she vomits onto her precious dress and onto her mother's shoulder. The camera never stops. The illustrator comes up and asks how to spell Caroline's name as he signs her book.
Caroline has a stinky hunk of vomit running down her dress. Mom, who coincidentally is ten weeks pregnant gets sick from the sour smell. Then, the author hands over the book and the camera stops.
The producer says, "Thank you. Great job. This will be on Tom Brokaw on Tuesday. Please don't show anyone the book until Tuesday." Wondering if she should say, "Hey, did you notice my child vomited during the segment. Are you cutting that part out?" Mom chooses to proudly exit the room carrying a pile of vomit on her shoulder like she is wearing the Queen's diamonds.