Since my kids are three, I have a treasure trove of mishaps and fun times to talk about in this blog that I’ve collected over the last 36 months. But screw all of that. Let’s start with what happened yesterday afternoon at the park.
Among my numerous neuroses related to the kids, a close second to them getting sick/injured is my fear that they are not active and adventurous enough. When they refuse to get up from my lap at a gymnastics birthday party, it takes an intensely imagined straight jacket and gag to keep me from shoving them onto the trampoline after berating them with a Bobby Knight-style “pep talk.” When they ride their scooters two blocks to the playground without complaining, the voice in my head sounds like Aly Raisman’s parents at the 2012 London Olympic Floor Exercise Finals with a touch of Mega Millions winner.
So when Addy and Zack expressed an interest in jumping off a 1.5-foot bench onto the sidewalk, I briefly saw two plaques awarded to brother/sister athletes of the year, [insert NYC Suburb] High School, Class of 2028, then figured, “what’s the worst that could happen?” because I’d surely hold their hands while they jumped. I said OK and told them they would get one jump each because we needed to go home to cook dinner.
Zack went first and took a soaring leap about three inches up and four inches out while grasping both of my hands like we were seared together with superglue. Then Addy approached launch position and it all went to hell. “Get away Mommy, I want to go by myself!” she commanded and before I could respond she jumped and landed, two feet on the floor. Sure enough, after a two second beat, Zack began scrining (scream-whining), “I wanna do it by myself! Addy got to do it by herself! I wanna do it by myself! Addy got to do it by herself! I wanna do it by myself!”
Although Zack is less sure-footed than Addy, I threw caution to the wind and did what I needed to do to turn the volume down – I said OK. After what seemed like an hour-and-a-half waiting for him to decide where on the bench he wanted to climb up, he shimmied to the edge and considered jumping. His face and body language couldn’t have been any clearer – he was not sure he really wanted to do this by himself. He bent his knees and threw his arms back but stopped short of jumping and told me that I needed to say “one, two, three, jump!” I heeded his request and he jumped, but my instincts screamed “catch him!” and I did. Fury filled his wide, innocent eyes and he screamed at me “I wanna do it by myself! Don’t catch me!” then ran back to the bench for a third try. He again tentatively made his way to the edge of the bench and struggled through a few false starts and a few unanswered “one, two, three, jumps.” Then he did it. Right there in the middle of the crowded NYC park, he presented me with the Moron-Mother of the Year award. He curled himself into a watermelon, slowly tipped his body off the bench and landed square on the sidewalk, head-first. The sound that his skull made as it met the ground was a cross between what it sounds like when you drop an egg and a 10-pound free weight on cement.
I basically stood there watching, dumbfounded until the blood-curdling screaming of both Zack and Addy woke me from my daze of horror. When I picked him up, I thought for sure blood would be spurting out of this forehead and shooting me in the face like that scene with the bicyclist from Monty Python. Then I thought his eye would be dilated and he’d puke all over me (this is what my pediatrician told me to look out for the last 73 times I emailed her asking what to do when one of the kids bumped their heads). Before I could even assess the situation, I decided the best course of action would be to call 911, give Addy to the homeless guy eating tuna fish on the bench across the way, throw the tricycle we had with us in the garbage can to my left and hire an attorney on behalf of Max to write up divorce papers that I would be served in the ER waiting room. But then I looked up at Zack and he was totally fine. No blood, no egg head, normal pupils, no projectile vomit. Just some tears and an imprint of the sidewalk on his nugget.
Addy and Zack were still crying as we walked home and I couldn’t calm them down until I did what any loving parent would do in this situation. I started making fun of him, and it slayed! “Hey Zack, next time you jump off a bench, try landing on your feet instead of your head!” The crying transitioned to craughing, I was onto something. Then I went all out and started calling him Humpty Dumpty and it was over, they were toast.
We called Max when we got home to tell him what happened and his reaction was akin to me telling him that I was making boiled chicken and beans for dinner or I had gotten 50 cents off a box of tampons as CVS today. Clearly, had this happened on his watch, my reaction would have been similarly unruffled. Psyche. I would have yelled at him for 20 minutes, given him the cold shoulder the rest of the night, then I would have reminded him of the “mishap” seven times a day until Zack was 25 years old. But I’m the mom so I’m allowed to react like that, right? I mean, I’m the one who carried those two babies for 34.5 weeks, suffered through two months of bed rest , then had my abdomen cut open and my guts laid on a table to get them out. I think I earned the right to overreact a little, no?
Thankfully, Max still loves me (I think) even though he knows I would have castrated him if he let Zack smash his head on a sidewalk. Here is a list of other things that I’d kill Max for doing that I have actually done:
1. Leaving the two-year-old kids in bath seats in the tub for “two seconds” while I threw their diapers in the Dekkor. (They were in bath seats!)
2. Giving them candy after they shit in their underwear. (Addy and Zack, not Max)
3. Letting Addy and Zack chase pigeons down 72nd Street while I talk on the phone to my mom. (What? I don’t need my mouth and ears to see them!)
4. Telling Addy and Zack that there will be no TV on school mornings under any circumstances, then promptly turning on Dora when they run into our room at 6:30 AM. (Me sleepy)
5. Letting the kids stand up in the stroller, unbuckled, while I pushed them uphill with bags hanging on the handlebar, only to have the stroller give from the weight and fall backwards, rendering the kids completely upside down (still in the stroller) and hysterical. (Oh, stop! They were fine!)