Summer is winding down.
Well, technically summer doesn't end until September, but summer vacation from elementary school is winding down. Can you feel my shoulders start to relax, see the wine glass in my hand, hear the maniacal exhaustion laughter? Don't misunderstand. I love my kids with an intensity that battles Benedict Cumberbatch's glare. But, I miss writing (and although I could get up at 5:00 a.m. or stay up past midnight to write, I'm too dang tired after a full day with the kids, and their many friends). I also miss quiet.
The past few weeks have been especially busy/harrowing. I think busy-harrowing is my new normal. Here are a few of the emotions I have had since last I posted, all experienced in a three hour period one fateful Thursday:
For those of you who don't follow my personal feed on Facebook, you may not know that a moment of turning my back lead to a trip to the ER. It began with when I met my friend Kristina and her two adorable pixies at the Kentucky Science Center with my two munchkins. The kids played for a good 15-20 minutes in the lobby, just putting themselves in bubbles, watching the giant pendulum, and staring at the mesmerizing Gravitron. This machine is inside a glass case the size of a soda vending machine. In it, a machine with pulleys and levers and shoots and gears moves a series of balls up and down. My son and his friend went to the bathroom with K and on the way back, Toby ran to me. I extended my arms to catch him, but when he missed me, I turned my back. Then I heard the thud. Then screaming. My son had run head-first smack into the Gravitron case. My daughter saw it and said he tripped and crashed his head into the metal corner.
I dropped my purse and grabbed my boy, pulling him into my lap as he cried and screamed. It was a loud thud. A sickening sound. I knew he was in pain. Kristina was kneeling down talking to him as I rocked and held him. I saw my daughter pacing and told K I thought she was freaking out, so K went to tend to her and her kids. I caught the eye of the employee working the snack stand. He stared back. When K came back she asked Toby to move his hands so she could see his head. When he did, he saw the blood and screamed more. I saw the blood and nearly fainted. Kristina leaped into action. I caught the eye of the employee again: "Um, can you call someone?!!!"
Eight staff member descended on us. One man, the head of guest relations, was incredibly kind and helpful. He knelt with me, brought ice and paper towels, water bottles and food so I wouldn't pass out. I thought I was going to pass out. My head rushed. Kristina instructed the staff to call EMS. She called my husband. As I started to keel over, K took Toby and held him and spoke calmly to him, telling him about how her daughter crashed into a glass table last year and is now fine. No scar. EMS arrived. My husband arrived. We discussed our options. The EMS staff checked out the wound and said he definitely needed stitches. The ice had staved off the bleeding, but his poor face was covered in blood. My husband saw our son's skull through the wound. EMS brought a gurney and strapped down my boy's head, put a collar on his little neck, and strapped down his torso. He chose my husband to ride in the ambulance with him, which made me a little sad and a little relieved. At this point I looked down at my shirt and noticed I was covered in blood. But, those wonderful people at KSC brought me and my entire family t-shirts (and gave me my money back on the tickets. And gave my son an cool toy from the gift shop) so I could change at the hospital. I thanked everyone for their kindness and followed the ambulance in the minivan. Kristina watched my daughter for the afternoon.
After I finally found parking at the children's hospital, ON THE ROOF!!, I located my family in the ER and was happy to see my son sitting up, answering questions that the doctor and attending nurses asked him. No concussion, no traumatic head injury, but stitches. Yes, stitches. Seven of them. We sat with Toby as doctors and nurses and a wonderful Child Life Specialist came in. If you have never heard of a Child Life Specialist, they are walking miracles. It is their job to calm down children in the hospital. This particular woman came in with a kit and showed Toby what stitches looked like and let him touch the stitches on a Burt doll. She also let him explore the instruments the doctor would use to sew him back together. She also gave him toys and stuffed animals and let him watch Phineas and Ferb on her iPad while he had surgery. He fell asleep. Apparently this is a common defense mechanism.
When our entire family returned home, we couldn't move. Not one of us. My husband didn't return to work and we just all collapsed on the couch with the dogs and 3 mindless superhero tv shows. I held my boy close to me and kissed the crown of his head.
The next day, Toby was back to normal with the exception of the stitches and a Wolverine bandaid on his forehead. He was silly and funny and loud.
The next day: all better
This is parenthood, my friends. The shock and awe of 24 hours. The worry and fear and disbelief and guilt followed closely on the heels by laughter and The Avengers. I know that I will turn my back again one day, many days, and most days it will be inconsequential, but knowing I can't always protect my kids, even when I'm right beside them, makes me thankful for all times when they're perfectly safe and sound. Even when they drive me crazy.