I wept the other day. My tears weren’t tears of joy, nor tears of sadness, nor even of frustration. They were tears of connection.
“Take him out, Coach!” — I yell across the gym.
It was more of a wail than a directive, “him” being my son and “Coach” being my husband. Reed is playing basketball and has just taken a spill. He is all right, but my heart is pounding, as he is playing injured tonight. Earlier in the day he’d had his chin sewn up, thanks to a fall off his bike. He’s been complaining of road rash elsewhere on his body, but not enough to sit out his game. He loves basketball more than just about anything.
I am so afraid Reed will bonk his chin on the court. The thought itself makes me wince.
My request sets off the 16 year-old girl sitting on the bleachers in front of me. She leans over to her mom and says something I don’t catch. But my daughter hears her “Eff You, Bee” remark. Defending my honor, Tessa rises to the bait: “Don’t be rude!”
The girl’s mom, as if spring-loaded, lays into Tessa, “YOU’RE BEING RUDE! Shut your effing mouth!”
Never one to back down, Tessa matches the woman expletive-for-expletive. All while I’m trying to get my daughter to hear my more moderated voice directly in her ear, “It’s OK. Stand down. De-escalate. Stop. It’s all right, Sweetie.”
The inflamed woman is now inviting 13 year-oldTessa to take it outside. It’s taken only about 4 seconds to get from my “Take him out, Coach!” to the mom’s “Ya wanna go at me!? Let’s go outside! Let’s go!” The woman is practically beating her chest at my daughter.
My own mom gets involved at this point, touching the woman on her sleeve and saying, “C’mon. You’re the adult here. Let’s calm things down.”
That douses the woman’s ire. She sits back down and we don’t hear from her or her daughter for the rest of the game.
My entire body is pulsing with adrenaline, and my brain races to to make sense of what’s just happened. The daughter must have thought that I was calling for the OTHER coach to take out HER brother, who was on the OPPOSing team. She knee-jerked based on a faulty assumption, and before anyone knew what was happening, she and her mom were ready to fight. Like really fight!
I feel my blood start to boil. I envision my formerly peaceful self doing all sort of uncharacteristic things. I’m sizing these two up, determining that, in fact, I CAN take them. At least the mom. All those turbo-kickboxing classes are about to pay off. Tessa can totally take the daughter. I even fantasize a scene in which I say, not even in my own voice, “I’ma cut you” (as if I even had a knife on me). I’m debating whether my first blow will be a jab or a roundhouse kick and just how much damage it will do on impact.
Damn, I’ve got a badass inside me!
Our team is winning, and Tessa and I gleefully cheer obnoxiously loud at each basket made by our boys. At the final buzzer we have won by 9 friggin points. Take that b*tches!
WHO AM I??
Have you ever had your dormant pugilist awakened?
#1: The Boy
Early in the evening we got a call from our local Kids Night Out program that Reed had crashed into metal bleachers while playing indoor tag. He had a gash on his leg that should be looked at.
Roger and I cut our Date Night short to pick up the kids and their friends, return the friends to their homes, and head to a children’s emergency room.
Reed entered — and later exited — in a wheelchair.
Though in pain, Reed mostly remained his jovial self from the time we retrieved him until the time the doctor said he would need stitches. That declaration broke Reed’s resolve and a full-on panic attack ensued.
First came the numbing gel. Thirty minutes later he was administered nasal versed, which made Reed amusingly loopy (This bed? It’s my best friend!). Finally, he was ready for irrigation and repair.
Roger, allowing his wimpy wife an out, took front-and-center position to hold Reed’s hands and gaze during the procedure. Our curious Tessa was eager to watch. That left me in the background, avoiding eye contact with all things crimson.
#2: The Girl
The next step in anesthesia involved a long needle, presumably to be administered directly into the wound (I wouldn’t know). Tessa, who likes to observe as people get shots and IVs, fixed her eyes.
And then got light-headed. I was standing next to her and was able to stop her from falling by pressing her toward a wall, guiding her gently to the floor. A nurse helped me get Tessa into what had been, an hour before, Reed’s wheelchair.
The nurse got the two of us situated in the next room. Tessa was given crackers and juice and a wet cloth for her sweaty forehead. We began to breathe together to calm her body down.
And then…from the next room, we heard, “I NEED SOME HELP IN HERE!!”
In a flash and of my own making, I became part of an ER episode, certain that Reed had gone into cardiac arrest just a wall away. I was convinced the doc was calling for a crash cart.
Tessa leapt out of bed and we both bolted into the hallway where several nurses were hustling. I peeked into Reed’s room with a vise around my throat.
I didn’t expect to see what I saw.
#3: The Surprise
In a heap on the floor at the head of my son’s bed were my husband’s legs. He had crumbled to the floor, hitting his head on the same wall that my daughter had slid down 5 minutes previously.
Roger had been holding the hands of Loopy Reed, who kept wanting to “help” the doc with the stitches. Why are my legs allllll the way down theeeeere? — he’d ask and point with his whole arm. Roger was charged with keeping Reed’s hands out of the doctor’s way. Having never been squeamish, Roger watched as the doctor probed her finger deep into the wound — into his son’s muscle — to fish out any debris.
That scene, along with the fact that Roger had come down with a cold the day before, was enough to vasovagal him. Moments later — you guessed it — Roger was occupying the family wheelchair.
With ice on his head and an oxygen mask on his face.
I started to laugh at how comical our calm date night had become. I didn’t know where to focus, how to be present for each of my downed comrades. I checked in first with Reed (still loopy, almost all stitched and bandaged), then with Tessa (over her own spell and now concerned about her dad), then with Roger (my dear sweet man, coming back to us and a bit mystified that this had happened).
I remained upright and eventually was able to drive us all home, starting with Reed’s wheelchair ride to the elevator.
And yes, it has occurred to us that our date nights may be cursed.
I was teaching map-making to my 1st grade Geography class. After drawing a map of my own house on the board, complete with a legend indicating bedrooms, backyard, and the titter-inducing bathrooms, I instructed each of the students to create a map of their houses.
They were eager to do so, making good use of the card stock and washable markers I’d set on the center of each knee-high table. The students worked hard to re-create from their minds the way they viewed their homes.
As first-graders will do, each one quivered with excitement to share their work with me.
Here are Johnny’s bunk beds. Here is Kayleigh’s mud room, where the backpacks get hung. Here’s how Sam’s room connects with his brothers (through the — titter — bathroom). And see this? It’s Tasha’s trampoline in the backyard.
One common feature of nearly every house was a TV room. But Alissa’s explanation of hers is what merits this post:
And this is our TV room. It’s where my sister and I watch TV while my parents have their Grown Up Meetings over here [points to master bedroom].
I could not tell if Alissa’s pronouncement of “Grown Up Meetings” had quotation marks around it.