There’s that

On Tuesday night I went to a meeting with a big piece of black bean (or pretzel or something) stuck in between my teeth and no one said anything and I smiled the whole entire time.

There’s that.

As I was leaving the meeting, I got a call from my husband who was relaying a call from one of my host families: a fresh air child needed to be removed from the host home ASAP due to behavioral issues. A number of phone calls and a detour later, I arrived home at 9:30 that night with a car full of groceries and a little seven-year-old girl in tow. We bedded her down on a pallet on our floor since I wanted to keep a close eye on her but that perhaps wasn’t the smartest idea because she spent the night confessing her crimes to Mr. Sandman (and us).

So there was that.

My oldest son’s friend who had spent the day on Tuesday, Tuesday night, and was slated to spend the majority of Wednesday with us, fell from the peak of the boys’ homemade zip line.

There is so much I could say about this, the gist of which is: Don’t use telephone cord for zip lines. I mean, HELLO WHERE IS YOUR BRAIN, O DEAR SON OF MINE.

I could be a paramedic. I was amazing. Look at this impressive line-up of ACTION!


*RAN to the scene of the accident.

*YELLED at everyone to NOT TOUCH HIM.

*STUDIED him objectively and NOTED that he was clutching thistles and not minding the prickles, so obviously, he was in pain.

*QUIZZED him as to the specifics of the source of his agonious (new word alert) writhing.

*INSTRUCTED him, when he was ready, to gently lift his legs and arms and move his head, and then, not seeing any other option…

*LET HIM LAY THERE in his shady bed of thistles and pain.

I repeated the above sequence (minus the running) (the poor kid was about sick of the leg lifts treatment), made some phone calls, gave him water, and then when he finally said he was ready, hauled him to his feet and half carried him into the house. Several hours, a hot water bottle, an Ibuprofen, and some phone calls to his mom later, the kid was still not getting up off the couch so I called him mom one more time and said, “You know, I’m fine with him laying here and he’s doing really well and says he doesn’t want to go home and doesn’t want me to call you but I am anyway because I think something might actually be wrong. I’m worried.” So she came out and took him home and I spent the rest of the day in a swirl of worry.

There was THAT.

Right after our new Fresh Air kid’s ex host mom dropped off her stuff and Injured Kid’s mom came to pick him up, I finally got everyone situated in their rooms for rest time and collapsed on the sofa with a glass of iced coffee. And then the phone rang.

“Hi, this is 9-1-1 and we just received a call from this number?”

I moaned and shut my eyes.

“It sounded like a small child?”

I assured 9-1-1 that everything was fine, and the operator laughed cheerily and hung up. After which I promptly stormed off to the Fresh Air kid’s room and interrupted her happy coloring with a rude “Did you just call 9-1-1?”

She denied it adamantly, and I said, “ARE YOU SURE” while I stared at her super hard and my inside voice ranted, “Yeah whatever! You don’t have the best truth telling track record, so I’ve been told!”

And then another thought popped into my head, and that was that my littlest was taking his siesta up in my room and my room has a phone in it and …. OH MY WORD.

I barreled upstairs. “DID YOU JUST CALL 9-1-1?” I asked in my lowest, most terrible voice. Yep, he did. It was perfectly clear by his hidden face. So after I got done lecturing him and confiscating the phone, I had to go apologize to the Fresh Air girl, the poor dear heart.

And then I sat back down on the couch to wait and see what would happen next.

When nothing did, I could hardly believe my good fortune.

And that was that. The end.

Except that I have more to say about the fall and all that ick and worry.

1. I play it cool when my kids get hurt but I go THROUGH THE ROOF with worry when it’s someone else’s kid getting hurt on my watch. I was such a basket case that my friend actually LAUGHED at me. (It helped.)

2. While Injured Kid was reclining and my son was accompanying, I made a friendly observation (otherwise known as a mild talking to). “Boys,” I said. “You are getting older and bigger and stronger and more creative and BECAUSE you are getting bigger and stronger and more creative, you have a greater chance of DOING MORE DAMAGE AND GETTING HURT. So you also have to get smarter and wiser and think more carefully, right? Right?”

“If I learned from all my mistakes, I’d be a genius,” Injured Kid quipped dryly.

“That’s a famous quote,” I pointed out.

“Yeah,” he said.

3. I think my son needs a common sense lesson way more than his friend did because that evening after the friend had been gingerly transferred to his house, my son kept talking zip lines, wanting to try this and that and arguing that phone line should be strong enough to support his weight. His father and I were at our exasperated-but-still-trying-to-hear-him-out-and-rationalize-with-the-kid stage, but we were starting to sputter. Finally his father said something like, “Your friend is HURT and we don’t know how BAD so STOP ALREADY with the zip line!” And I said something like, “I almost wish YOU had been the one to fall!” Or maybe I just thought that? No, I’m pretty sure I said it because if I’d only thought it I would not have used the buffer word “almost.”

4. Injured Kid’s dad called us from the ER last night. The verdict? A hairline fracture in his pelvis. A BROKEN PELVIS? NO WAY! HOLY COW! OH MY WORD! And at the same time I was thinking, I’m so glad it’s just his pelvis and not a broken back and compressed vertebra and that he doesn’t have to have surgery to get a rod put in his back and deal with excruciating back pain for the rest of his life, hallelujah and take a deep breath NOW.

And then I said to my husband, “If they’re at the ER then who is taking care of their other kids? Do you think we should go in? Maybe they need us to take their daughter?”

And then I snorted, “Like they would want to send their daughter out here right after their son JUST GOT DONE BREAKING HIS PELVIS AT OUR HOUSE.”

5. Our friends have been exceedingly gracious and non-accusatory. They said clearly and directly that they do not hold us accountable for this accident. They mean it, I believe. And I know if I were in their shoes I would feel the same way. But I’m not in their shoes, I’m in mine, and I can’t help but feel bad.

6. So I made them a big pan of enchiladas and some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. It was the least I could do.

This same time, years previous: a bout of snarky, sanitation and me, orange-mint tea


  • Sarah

    What a long day! I love pyrotechy's comment about the 2 boys = 1/2 boy. SO TRUE! Just wondering if the zip line was child-designed and installed? Their ingenuity is quite similar to the rachet strap climbing harnesses my kids rigged up to climb and rappel out of our maple tree!

  • Margo

    well good grief. I was on the edge of my seat the whole post! What a productive way to be a friend and soothe your guilt (as you said, not necessary guilt, but still there nonetheless) by cooking them some lovely food. You are great.

  • Marie M.

    First: My heart goes out to you, your family, the injured boy and his family. Whew. Second: A Zip line? Did they do any research about installing one? Oy vey. Third: I think you kept your cool amazingly well. I freaked out the first time my three year old son needed stitches. Really, almost threw up, although he was calm and the doctor said he'd never had a child who didn't scream his head off. Fourth: I realized I had a boy, a very active child and I had to learn calm in the face of disaster. But I didn't have four. I don't know how you manage. I'm in awe. Again. Fifth: What happens if one has a hair-line fracture in your pelvis? Bed rest? or?

  • Mama Pea

    I'm virtually holding your hand while hugging you and patting your back. I suppose you could forbid your kids to do the things they do that you are allowing them to do so that they may grow up active, inquisitive, healthy kids with a happy childhood (whew, whadda sentence and I'm not even done yet) but I believe you're doing it the best possible way by doing what you're doing. Still, incidents like you described are enough to never allow them to have friends over again and consider locking all of yours in padded rooms for several years.

    Thank the powers that be the boy was not injured more seriously. Sending sympathies to you for what you've had to go through.

    P.S. Our daughter fell backwards out of a tree house at good friends' of ours. The kids were just playing and having a good time in the great out of doors. Thankfully only a lump with scar tissue to show for it but did I blame the parents? Of course not.

  • Misha

    I laughed in this post, moaned, gasped and ended in tears.

    Your amazing writing notwithstanding – this was QUITE the day. I wish someone could make you a dinner &treats!!

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