It was a last-minute decision to make a quick meal for the kids then sneak out for a quieter, more relaxing dinner away from home. We don’t allow ourselves this kind of getaway often, but we were due and it was wonderful, sitting there in the lovely eatery while the rotisserie chicken circled round and round above the wooden fire near the restaurant kitchen, filling our senses with delicious aromas and remembrances of times spent near campfires in the warm summertime. We talked about things that needed to be addressed; things that wouldn’t have been quite so easy to chat about at home, where countless interruptions would have made eeking out a coherent thought impossible.
We weren’t in a hurry to get back but eventually, knew our time had come to an end, so hubby went outside to warm up the van while I made a quick bathroom run. When I looked in the mirror while washing up, I saw the Christmas pin on my coat had turned sideways. Oh, why not fix it right now, I thought, feeling no sense of urgency to walk out into the cold. There, that’ll do, I said aloud, then made my way outside, casually walking toward the van, still feeling the euphoria of a night out. The world changed quickly when I opened the door and saw the look of concern on the face of Daddy, who announced that our son’s head was bleeding and we’d better get home quickly.
We arrived home to find our fourth child on the steps inside holding a towel to his head and varying accounts from his siblings of what had happened. Somehow, we got that he’d slipped on the floor in the family room and a corner of the cement at the bottom of the fireplace had caught his fall; it wasn’t a soft landing. He had a gash about an inch long and wider than I felt comfortable seeing. “I’m taking him in,” I said, and off I went, knowing my weakness around the sight of blood on my children. On the way there, I talked to the older two kids on the cell phone in an attempt to get more of the full story and calm them down. Then I had flashbacks of a time we were dining several years back and this same child caught his finger in the sliding-glass door…I never did get to eat my shrimp meal that night. I walked my now-calm 6-year-old into the lively, lit-up emergency room, where we stayed for several hours.
During that time, I got some magazine reading done, and he became adept at holding up a plastic cup to the ice-cube and water machine and filling it. If asked, he could now tell you 101 things to do with an ice cube and plastic cup. Another little boy around his age came up to him and introduced himself and hung out near us, told us his complication, asked some questions, much to the shock of my shy boy. That ate away another 15 minutes. A trip to the candy machine for a quarter’s worth of M&Ms took up another 10. And then it was time to be seen. “Oh my, that’s going to require a couple staples,” the first nurse said. The kind e.r. doctor showed me the stapler and how it worked; how it was going to create an enclosed staple on my boy’s head (times two). I held him close while the doctor did his work, watching him wince but not cry when the staples went in. Yes, there had been a numbing gel applied half-hour before, but the doc said there would still be some feeling. And then it was over, and I was so proud of him. Not one teardrop.
And now he’s got bragging rights when he returns to school. Strep throat and a slice in the head all in one weekend for my guy, but he fared well, all things considered. Bouncing out of the e.r. close to midnight, he had a stuffed Christmas bear in one arm, Sponge Bob stickers in his other hand, and the assurance that he now gets to play hooky one more day.