A few months ago, we had one of those stomach flus familiar to parents of young children everywhere. My son threw up all over his bed, and I wasn't feeling so hot myself.

A wiser woman would do her best to forget this nightmare, but in our house, the ups and downs get immortalized on Twitter and Facebook. So when my husband headed off to a gathering of twitterers the next day, I couldn't resist posting an update. And of course my update had to introduce a new hashtag, one of those keywords (preceded by a # sign) that people use to organize conversations on Twitter:

@robcottingham off to #vancouvertweetup while I go home to #pukefest

Rob's response:

@awsamuel Will try to moderate drinking sufficiently to prevent hashtag convergence. #vancouvertweetup #pukefest

But Rob wasn't the only person to respond. Our friend Jordan saw our tweets and chimed in:

@awsamuel @robcottingham It sounds as though we're experiencing the same kind of week. Praise Pedialyte!

Pukefest may have started as a one-liner, but it turned into a lifeline. Three nights after our Twitter exchange, #pukefest claimed our daughter. The poor kid was epically sick: She threw up for hours and hours, all night long. Thanks to Jordan's tip, we were ready with the Pedialyte, and when the puking finally stopped, we were able to get Sweetie hydrated and perked up very quickly.

If it takes a village to raise a child, that village no longer needs to be defined by the place you happen to live. Given the mobility of today's young parents, it's probably better if you're not reliant on the people in your own town or city: You need a village of co-parents who can travel with you, who will be wide awake in their time zone when you're groggily dealing with a middle-of-the-night crisis in yours.

6 ways the Web can provide the village of help you need


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