Yesterday my mom and dad hired three of the kids to pick rocks out of their (cheap, obviously) topsoil, and since the other child was at her regular job, I had most of the morning to write. I say “most” because I did have some other tasks to do. When there are no minions to order about, I’m the one who has to pick up the household slack, shocker. So my writing time was punctuated with washing up the breakfast dishes and then hanging out two loads of laundry.

You know, I rarely hang laundry any more. The kids are the ones that get to do battle with whippy winds and wet clothes, their fingers going numb in the process. But they’re young. They have excellent circulation, so I figure they can endure better than I. But yesterday was warm with crystal-blue skies. As I strung up the clothes, my freshly-oxygenated mind roamed over a whole passel of ideas in the most productive and invigorating of ways. It was lovely.

The clothing hung, I walked back to the house, my roiling brain still deep in esoteric thoughts that, if captured properly, I’m convinced, would make me a millionaire. As I climbed the porch steps, I was phrasing a brilliant sentence just so when my flipflop snagged the edge of the step and I found myself studying the porch concrete much more closely than I am accustomed. (It’s gray. Also, hard.) I was immediately aware of the neighbors’ voices across the road and I flipped onto my back, hoping they hadn’t witnessed my stunt. (They hadn’t. Thank you, bushes.)

I lay on my back in a puddle of sunlight and pondered the porch beams.

“Did that really just happen?” I asked out loud.

“Yeah, it did,” I said, answering my own questions. “That just happened.”

Of course the moment I hit the ground, all my profound thoughts scattered. Just like that, my world screeched to a halt. My perspective, quite literally, changed.

It’s ironic, isn’t it. I march through life like I own it, but one floppy flipflop and everything shifts. One second walking, my head in the clouds; the next flat on my back. My fragility is stunning. I am so totally not invincible.

I sat up. My knee hurt. It burned with a ferociousness I had forgotten existed. How long had it been since I’d skinned my knee on concrete? Years, probably. Maybe decades, even. So this is why kids cry when they fall down, I thought. Maybe I’ll be a little more sympathetic next time.

I hobbled back into the house, checked my knee for blood (there was none—I’m a wimp), and settled back on the couch for some more writing. And at noon I went over to my parents’ house and ate lunch with the crew: scalloped potatoes with hot dogs and carrots, fresh applesauce, and tapioca with barely-thawed strawberries.

The end.

This same time, years previous: the wiggles, the greats, and Chinese apple and cabbage salad.


  • Starr

    Scalloped potatoes, get in my belly.

    I yanked my toe around tripping on my pj pant leg the other day. It hurt terribly and I can't believe I didn't break my toe. It turned black and blue, and the kids were so sweet about it. I felt bad that I probably tell them to shake off their injuries a little too flippantly…

  • karen

    I remember getting stung by a wasp (yellow jacket there?) on my elbow — a less fleshy place — and how long and bad it hurt a few years back. I was so grateful for the sting, because it really informed me of how much more empathetic I needed to be when my kids get stung.

    Great post.

  • Mama Pea

    Another well-written post, as usual. You really need to put together a book of essays or short stories. Or some such.

    The serious side of your thoughts is that something can happen in the blink of an eye (or snag of a flip-flop) that truly does change a life forever. We've all known of freak accidents that make us think, "If only . . . " (Geesh, nothing like ending my comment on a down note. :o( )

  • Becky

    I broke a nail last week while making coffee. It was horrible. I had no idea how much I used said nail until it was no longer there.

  • Suburban Correspondent

    Yesterday morning I went for a quick walk and did precisely the same thing – my FitFlop slid to the side just a little and I went down like a poled ox. Landed on my arm and my knee, which looks impressively abraded. Spent the rest of my walk trying to figure out what happened. And my knee ended up hurting A LOT from the scrape, which made me feel bad for my callousness toward my children's injuries, too. So, weird coincidence, right?

    I, too, am shocked at how much housework I have to do myself when my children are not around.

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