A warning, y'all: there's some gross stuff in this story. Do NOT read while eating.
My husband has a great relationship with Sister, though she is the Ex's daughter and not his own. They get along beautifully for the most part, though, and Sister is always excited when he comes home from work because she knows she can look forward to a good romp with him. He plays with her in that way that men do with kids and women don't--tosses her in the air, hangs her upside down, makes dumb jokes, you get the picture.
So it bothers me that one troubled spot in their relationship is that Husband often doesn't believe the things Sister says. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm under no illusion that my older child is a completely truthful at all times. She's 7 and is still perhaps not entirely clear on absolute truth and the words to use to say something. I feel like I can usually tell when she's trying something out on us, though--trying to manipulate us to get her way, trying to alarm us with tales of other children's behaviour, etc. Last night, Sister complained that her stomach hurt. She started doing this in the bath when Husband asked her to go ahead and wash herself already, using washcloth, yes, but also soap, Sister. And no, you did NOT wash yourself yet, I've been with you the whole time, dear! She's doing all this complaining that she's got a bellyache while giving Husband a hard time about washing, so he assumes that they're part of the same hassle. Sister continues to complain as she emerges from her bath and is asked to tidy her room before dinner. Again, Husband believes that she's just being ornery, trying to get out of doing things she doesn't want to do. And it is true that this is one of the strategies in her well-used arsenal of chore avoidance tactics.
We all sit down to dinner and Sister is looking downright pale. I'm thinking that she really is feeling bad, and frankly with all the crap I allowed her to eat at her Christmas party this isn't an unreasonable theory. Husband is impatient with her, though, and tired of hearing her whine for what he believes is a falsehood. It's hard for me to know quite what to do. I don't want to say anything to challenge his authority in front of her, but I don't want to discount Sister's complaints if she really is sick. After she eats just a little of her dinner I test her, telling her she doesn't have to finish it and she can just brush her teeth and go right to bed. To my surprise, she agrees to this readily and now I KNOW she's feeling bad.
She gets into bed, and I might add that at no time does she ask for her Advent calendar candy or any dessert of any kind. My child does feel bad. I read her some chapters, tuck her in, and kiss her goodnight. When I emerge from her room, I tell Husband, "You know, I really think she's feeling bad. She didn't ask for dessert or anything, did you notice?" Husband sort of hums at me in disbelief, but I don't press him. It bugs me a little that he doesn't believe her, but what do I do? I certainly can't prove it. I can only believe what she's telling me--he does not.
But an hour later, as I'm ironing the border on a baby quilt I've finished, we hear her padding down the hallway, accompanied by some spattering sounds. Shit. I rush into the bathroom, dodging a large vomit splat on the hallway rug, and find Sister at the sink, her belly heaving. Husband is right behind me and is instantly full of remorse. He's apologizing to her for being mean even as she's standing at the sink, barfing surprisingly large quantities of pastel chunks. Husband is feeling so guilty about not having believed her that he races back to her room to begin cleaning up. There is barf EVERYWHERE. All over both Sister's sheets, on her bedspread, her down comforter, the canopy that hangs around her bed, her giant stuffed rabbit, her bookshelves by the door--I mean, enormous quantities of the stuff. And it's all apparently composed of party junk so it's no wonder.
It takes Husband a good half hour to clean and mop and disinfect everything. I'm washing 5 loads of laundry today. The giant bunny and hallway rug may be a lost cause, I don't know. But the good thing is that Husband will probably think twice about discounting what Sister says from now on.