Gash.

I decided that, instead of going to the usual bagel place, I would go to the one in the middle of town because they had better coffee. And so, as you might imagine, now that it’s all said and done, in my mind, the whole thing happened because I wanted better coffee.

We parked and fed the meter one quarter for a half hour and then happily started toward the cafe. The Who rounded the corner onto the brick walkway and the tip of his shoe caught the tip of mine and he was down. Knees first and I remember popping out a casual, “oops!” before he then tipped forward and slammed his face into the wrought iron chair with a sickening thunk. He immediately popped up, both hands over his nose, Marcia Brady-style, and was hopping around in the way he only does when he is in so much pain (either physical or emotional — I’ve seen both) that his little body just can’t stand it.

Within seconds, blood was seeping through his fingers and pouring onto the ground like a slow-streaming faucet. Just. So. Much. Blood. Someone asked if he should call 9-1-1 and I said yes. In the far-off distance, I heard that call being made. A kind-eyed woman told me she was a medic and asked if I wanted her help and because I was basically a shivering, hysterical puddle, I accepted. She immediately got on her knees and applied the wad of napkins someone had procured. She started talking to The Who. “What’s your name, buddy? How old are you? You’re gonna be just fine. You got a little boo-boo on your nose. Is this your Mommy? Are you going to dress up for Halloween? What are you going to be?” As she distracted him, she pulled his hands from his face, exposing the biggest, most gaping wound I have ever seen on a child. (The EMT later told me that face wounds just pop right open because of how taut the skin is.) It looked like a wide open laughing mouth right on the bridge of his nose. I saw tissue. And bone. I am sure of it. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I kissed his head and told him he was going to be fine, but I couldn’t stop myself from hysterically asking, repeatedly, if he was going to be ok.

He later asked to return to the scene. We examined the blood spatter on the bricks and I secretly thought about Dexter and what the Miami PD Forensics Department would have made of it.

The kind first-responder kept giving me tasks to do. “Why don’t you take that ice and wash his hands, Mom. Why don’t you wipe that blood off his shoes.” And a few times she said, “You need to hold it together, Mom, so he stays calm. If you need to step away for a minute, do that.” Which I did. I called m*. Nine times. She didn’t hear her phone (which, in retrospect, is probably better. I would have panicked her if she had spoken to me then.) Another sweet bystander rubbed my back and gave me sweet looks. I continued kissing The Who’s head and holding his bloody hands.

For all of our family love for emergency vehicles and sirens, The Who was not delighted to be riding in an ambulance. I do think his repeated visits to the local fire station helped keep him calm about it, though. He climbed into it all by himself. And that would be the theme for the rest of the day: The Who totally stepping up and far surpassing anyone’s expectations for a 3-year-old in an ER with a marble-sized hole in the middle of his face.

There’s never a time when seeing this feels ok.

I did get ahold of m* and thanks to Hurricane Sandy, she was home from work for another day. She showed up at the hospital and for the next hour, as The Who intermittently napped (which ended up helping with his energy for trick-or-treating later), we took turns holding the numbing solution on his cut and tossing mournful, supportive looks at one another.

After an hour of pressure and resting, the giant hole started to come together a bit on its own. Here, instead of looking like a cruel, laughing mouth, it just looks like a delicate pair of lipsticked lips.

Now, he’s got five stitches in the middle of his face, holding together a half-inch crescent-shaped wound. He said it looked like his “boo-boo has eyelashes.” Astute observation, indeed.

Third eye. I imagine in some cultures, this is considered lucky.

He told me this morning that he wished he didn’t have his boo-boo. I assured him that soon, it would be a distant memory. He’s not totally at the “I have an awesome story to tell!” phase yet. He’s still pretty traumatized. So are m* and I, actually. Last night, trick-or-treating, I wished he was wrapped in cotton. All the tree limbs and slippery leaves. I thought five stitches was enough for one day. He was, of course, fine. (He told me it was because his “Spidey Sense” told him he would be.) I shined a flashlight directly on his face last night when he was sleeping to make sure it was ok and poor m* woke up at 3:45 am (for the day), thinking about him.

We both feel incredibly grateful. A harder hit, a smidge to the left or right, a slower-responding medical team and/or good samaritans — it all could have gone a different way. We vowed to donate regularly to our local fire department. I wish I had that kind medic’s name. The gash already looks better. He doesn’t have two black eyes — yet. My body is exhausted. I can’t imagine having to do this for more than one kid.

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Holiday.

By the end of yesterday, m* had really reached the end of her rope and needed a stretch of several hours of quiet, which I totally understood. So, I put myself to bed early last night (to make sure I’d have enough energy and patience) and planned a solo day with The Who. Nothing hugely special because it is Labor Day, after all — and a rainy one at that — so our choices were really limited. But we made it work and had one of the chillest days we have had together in a long time.

Some looking around online last night alerted me to an antique car show that was happening rain or shine at a diner over the bridge, so I figured — breakfast PLUS cool cars? Ok. That’s where we started our day.

I always have a Take-n-Play Thomas set (among other things) in my “backpack o’ fun” that comes to restaurant outings with us. We are very rarely caught without at least a few things with which to pass the time between sitting and eating. Today was no exception.

Once the train novelty wore out, I pulled a few other vehicles from the backpack and we made our very own car show like the one setting up outside our window. The Who drew the parking spots and I labeled them. He named the show: “The C’mon In Car Show.”

He chose grape juice as his drink and ordered challah French toast. Halfway through the meal, he said, “Hey! This is like shabbat! Challah and wine juice!”

Despite the rain having all but stopped while we were inside eating, by the time we were done and ready to look at some cars, it was practically pouring horizontally. The Who, bedecked in his totally weatherproof windbreaker wanted to soldier on, but I just couldn’t.

By the time we got back to the car, this is what my pants looked like. That light spot is the only part that wasn’t soaked through on both my pants and shoes.

In the car, The Who took off his shorts, underwear, socks, and shoes and hung around nudie booty, listening to his namesake book on CD while I blasted the heat, trying to dry my clothes. Once that was over, he slipped into the dry clothes I had brought for him (and neglected to pack for myself) and we headed across the street to the mall for a while. The Who has pretty much never been to a mall, so this was pretty novel.

Although I did bring dry clothes, I did not think about dry shoes. ShoelessWho threw some pennies into the fountain, probably wishing he had some shoes to wear. (But, on second thought, probably not. He kind of loved walking down the mall without shoes. I drew the line at escalators, though, and made him sit in the stroller.)

(We did find shoes, which was my plan. JC Penney totally came through with $5 sale Keens knock-offs, so he wore those for most of the day.)

We hit the Halloween Store and tried on many masks. Perhaps the reason it took him so long to fall asleep tonight is because he was scared by the Romney mask he made me try on after he sported Obama.

As we were leaving, I saw him standing quietly by the Obama masks. When I got closer, I heard him whispering, “Bye, Obama.” I hope it wasn’t a foreshadowing…

We stuck as close to the side as possible so as not to piss off the hoards of back-to-school shoppers, slipping into Abercrombie. One lady was audibly frustrated behind us, so I convinced The Who to let me share the wheel.

Our final mall stop before venturing back out into the deluge was the kid’s shoe section in Nordstrom’s. It was right by the door and had an aquarium in it, so The Who asked to take a peek. Then he noticed the polka dotted seat. Then the collection of cute books. We read “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” a couple of times and I might have bought it if I wasn’t so skeeved by pigeons in general.

And that was mostly our day. We drove home, The Who took a quick snooze, and then we met up with m* for a late afternoon movie. (The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, which was kind of weak when compared to Pixar-type kid movies, but he was engaged for the whole hour and a half and was singing along by the end, which is definitely better than when I took him to see Ice Age, which was over his head.)

Tomorrow, The Who starts Pre-K, which is the oldest classroom in his school/day care. He started there at 13 months old and now he’s like a senior in high school. Crazy big. Just crazy.

Big.

How is it double-digit July already? And how is my kid practically reading?

Ok, he’s not reading, quite. But he is really on the verge. Sounding letters, listening for words that start the same. Matching pictures and words. The whole thing. Inventive spelling is right around the corner and if I put in the time and he stays as interested as he is right now, he could easily be reading by this time next year.

His recent stab at writing the word “circle.” (That second letter is an “R”)

He jumps off the side of the pool now. Into nothing. Right into the water. Sure, I reach down and grab him up before he sinks (he’s not a swimmer yet) but this boy who refused to let go of my bathing suit top (sorry, everyone at the pool, for the multiple unintentional viewings of my ladies) is now “reaching and kicking” and sliding under water and back up without any trauma whatsoever.

Standing at the top of the slide for the zillionth time, which less than two weeks ago scared the crap out of him.

He is a “big kid.” It’s so clear to me. I hear his voice and the way he puts sentences together and see the things he can do and although he is still very much my baby and still very much a little kid, he is big. And getting bigger. There’s no getting off this ride and I’m not having any more kids and I have spent two of the last three nights lost in watching old videos of his baby days.

I totally understand why people keep having babies. Of course, there is the “I want my kid to have siblings” argument. But it also has to be about wanting to re-immerse yourself as a parent in the growing of a child. To re-experience the babyhood, the steps, the learning, the figuring it out. The Who is my first kid. Everything he does will always be fascinating to me and new for the both of us. Kindergarten, middle school, learning to drive, first dates — all of it. I get it and I am excited and eager to see it and experience it all. But there is something intoxicating about the first years when the basic elements of being a full-fledged human are emerging. Walking, talking, eating. And as The Who starts to outgrow some of that novelty, I am starting to miss it.

I’m grappling with wanting him to flourish and learn and move forward, but also wanting to hang onto the coattails of his babyhood. I’ll let him go, of course. He’ll fly. But I’m still going to grab him around his waist and smother him in kisses every chance I get.

Slow down, kiddo. Slow down.

Photos.

We spent five hours at the pool yesterday. The Who was in and out of his bathing suit twice, took a handful of sand to the face gracefully, and played with any kid who joined him in the sand box. I watched my shirtless boy soaking in summer and all I could do was smile.

I took The Who to my “work building” because I had to sign some papers. This, although it is a building on campus, was not our final destination, but we popped in to potty here. And I’m glad we did because the living wall (behind him) and the enormous cherry picker stationed in the middle of the rotunda captivated him and moved him to say, “Ooh, Mama. I love your work building!” Never a bad idea to instill a sense of pride in a kid about where his mama works.

An unexpectedly breezy evening brought us back outside after cooking dinner to do some rock sorting on our new steps. I have been astounded lately at his interest in and skills with counting and adding. I better start brushing up because math, well, let’s just say I’m an English teacher for a reason and leave it at that.

Moving from counting to writing. He still writes his whole name backwards and that “E” often has a zillion lines on it. I love to watch him figuring it out.

This.

Rammy.

Oh, the boy. He’s a menace lately. Chalk it up to giving up the binky four days ago. Or not being able to nap at school. Or starting to wrangle himself into a daily poop. Or the big-boy bed that came last week. A whole lot of change in not a whole lot of time. He’s handling it all as well as can be expected, really.

But, still.

He climbed onto the dining room table after dinner. On to the table. Just thought that might be an appropriate or good idea. And when we wrangled him back down and gave him our sternest looks, he did it again. And then, after the bath, when we’re supposed to be quietly and sweetly getting into jammies, winding down, reading stories, he looked me square in the eye and started singing at the top of his lungs. Right in my face.

The Dr. Jekyll counterpart to this Baby Hyde is that he has been doing a lot more independent play. He’s really into the train table and has committed the Thomas theme song to memory. This morning he sang it seven times in a row on the way to school in the backseat. (To my delight, he invited me to join in once or twice. Usually he silences me.) He’s also really digging playing in the sandbox lately. (Sorry. Pun intended.)

What I keep thinking is, “Ah, well. I guess you take the good with the bad,” except I’d really rather not label his behavior with those extremes. So, in the meantime, I guess we’ll just keep taking the really-appreciated with the less-than-desirable.

At least he’s back to sleeping through the night. Knock wood. At least there’s that.

How it went.

I was waiting for it to happen, and frankly, I thought he’d ask about a daddy first, but this morning as we were putting on our shoes and zipping up our jackets, The Who looked up at me and said, “Mama? Why do I have TWO mommies?”

Despite my rush to get out the door (him to school and me to work) and the chaos of the early weekday morning, I registered the importance of the question. One of those questions that, as a parent of a young child (and especially a queer parent of a young child), you wait for and think about and plan for, but are never fully prepared for. Where do babies come from?  Where do you go when you die? What is God? Why do I have two mommies?

I told him that his Mommy and I love each other and got married (hoping that when he is really old enough to know, our marriage will actually be legal and recognized in our home state) and we decided to have a child, so we are both his mommies together. That seemed to sate him. He flipped the last velcro on his sneaker over, pulled the hood of his sweater onto his head, and said, “Oh. Ok.”

So, that’s how that went.

Talk.

“What were you eating, Mama?”
“Birthday cake.”
“Did you have ice cream with your birthday cake?”
“No.”
“Well, ice cream is a lovely thing to have with birthday cake.”

At what point do I stop being amazed with the things that come out of his mouth and just accept that he is now a full-blown talker? The Who was, by all counts, an “early talker” and has been surprising, amusing, and stunning us all (parents, teachers, and doctors alike) with not only his vocabulary, but his seemingly innate ability to conjugate and manipulate words. He, for example, rarely, if ever, says “teached” or “goed.” It has always been “taught” and “went.” And I remember at his 2-year well visit with the pediatrician, he was looking out the window at traffic on the highway and said, “Look at all those trucks and cars driving out there!” His doctor’s jaw dropped and I said, “What? Cars and trucks?” She said, “No. Driving out there.” It was a phrase that, to her, signified a really advanced movement from thought to language, but one that I, as his mama who was with him all the time, didn’t hear as at all unusual or remarkable. I knew he was verbally advanced because people kept telling me, but I was a kid who practically came out of the womb talking and was reading by three, so his apparently ahead-of-the-curve speech never struck me as remarkable.

Lately, though, he is coming out with these complex sentences and using vocabulary in such an intuitive way that I find myself constantly reporting the things he said — in texts to m* or on Facebook or even just repeating to a nearby friend. But then this morning it occurred to me: maybe it’s not extraordinary. Maybe this is the way three-year-olds talk. Maybe I’ve been conditioned to think of his language as advanced because he started early and has always been very articulate for his age. I’m not sure. I don’t spend enough time around other three-year-olds, I guess. The internet seems to suggest that “many kids can string together 3 or 4 word sentences,” and that “you should be able to understand about 75% of what they say (“Communication” par. 8). Really? Is that the norm? Just that one ice-cream-and-cake sentence was eleven words long and that was certainly not his most complex sentence by a long shot. And I would say that I understand 99.9% of what he says and if I can’t understand it, I can ask him to say it another way and he does.

I don’t mean to be a braggart about my Precious Special Snowflake’s amazing genius. I just really don’t feel like I have a sense of what is remarkable and what just is.

What about you? Do you find yourself similarly questioning things about your kid’s development? What does your kid do that is awesome, but that you kind of take for granted?

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“Communication and Your 2-3 Year Old.” kidshealth.org. KidsHealth, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2012.