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'Sympathy vomiting' dad admits he embellished viral story for his wife's benefit

Ben Patterson now admits he embellished his viral "sympathy vomit" story a little bit for dramatic effect when texting his wife.
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

When Ben Patterson posted a picture of his son, Declan, covered in vomit and screenshots of his frantic texts to his wife about how he was “sympathy vomiting” last week, he had no idea what he was starting. Now he wants to come clean: the reality wasn't quite as dramatic as he portrayed.

What he now calls “the barf heard ‘round the world” went mega-viral from his own page, racking up almost 100K likes now and 160K shares. His texts to his wife, which claimed that he had to pull over on the side of the road to throw up himself after his son vomited in his carseat, were also covered by news outlets all over the internet, including TODAY Parents. But it didn't happen quite the way he described on his Facebook page.

Patterson told his wife in those texts that a neighbor had called the police when she saw his throwing up outside the car, concerned that he was driving while intoxicated with Declan in the car, and that the Burlingame, California police had come to question him and make him take a Breathalyzer test.

But now, Patterson is admitting that he embellished the story just a tiny bit — not to deceive the public, but for the benefit of his wife, who was out to dinner with friends when he was texting her from side of the road while dealing with a toddler whose vomit, he claimed, smelled like “rotting whale blubber.”

There was vomit, and it did smell bad, but the truth is the Burlingame police were not called, and he was not made to take a Breathalyzer test to prove his own vomiting was not the result of driving while intoxicated.

Last night, Patterson posted to Facebook again.

“I just wanted to clarify that while the rest of the story is true, the part about the police coming and the Breathalyzer was just something I added for dramatic effect for my wife in the moment,” Patterson wrote. “Now that the story has blown up, I wouldn’t want anyone to think badly of the Burlingame PD because I was joking! The truth counts. I actually went down to Burlingame PD and chatted with them and we had a good laugh about things.”

When it comes to being the parent on duty, sometimes it’s tempting to text our partners with epic stories of the tantrums, diaper blowouts, and yes, projectile toddler vomit we face alone in their absence. But Patterson’s is a cautionary tale: confessing your hyperbole to your wife is a lot easier without the whole internet and the Burlingame Police Department along for the ride.

TODAY Parents reached out to Patterson for comment, but he declined.