Last week my kids participated in Bubble Soccer camp.
What is bubble soccer, you may ask? Let my son — they boy in the red shoes — show you.
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.
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.
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 have my own personal and portable DJ. Reed loves to play music for me as we drive from activity to activity. He plugs his iPod into the car’s reverse-USB port and carefully selects songs based on factors of the moment.
On a recent trip that was just the two of us — which meant he got to sit in the front seat — he chose songs from our past. One he got done fiddling with his iPod and the music began, he did something remarkable.
He reached out for my hand.
For the rest of the 15-minute trip, our fingers were as intertwined as our voices.
The next day, Tessa invited me to take the dog for a walk with her. “Come with me, Mama,” she said in the unguarded tone of voice I remember from her pre-teen days. And by “pre-teen” I mean “less hostile.”
We found the leash, clipped it on Dexter, and headed out the door. Before we even got around the corner, Tessa did something remarkable.
She reached out for my hand.
For the rest of the 15-minute stroll, our hands connected us and our stride synched us.
Don’t forget to sign up for the Finding Zoe virtual book club by Friday. Can’t beat a good book and great discussion about it.