"Mom, if I had let him play 'Battlefront' when he asked, this wouldn't have happened."
Sunday morning. Plans to meet friends for brunch after church - cancelled. Desire to rouse selves from bed, clean selves up and attend church - diminished as a result. That, plus Mom and Dad were bone-tired, after (1) staying up late watching bowl games, (2) waking up several times during the night when first one, and then the other, child woke up and couldn't get back to sleep, and (3) being awakened (finally, for Mom; temporarily, for Dad) a little before 7 by an eleven year-old's announcement that one of his teeth came out in his Cap'n Crunch. So I let Dad go back to sleep, idea being that when he got up, I would try to grab a catnap.
Catnap opportunity came around 10:30 (I got waylaid by various chores), and I crawled back into bed, accompanied by three felines. (Hey, I said catnap, right?) I had just drifted off when the screaming started. At first, I thought someone was actually hurt. Listened for another couple of seconds and revised my opinion: sounded like a garden-variety brother skirmish.
Then I heard the Dad hollering:
"GET UP! I NEED YOUR HELP!"
I opened the door just in time for the Dad to burst in, holding a shrieking six year-old. They made a beeline for the master bathroom.
Blood - definitely blood. Coming from . . . where?
The Dad filled in the blanks: the Sheltie was sitting on the sofa next to the Dad, Parker lunged for her extremely suddenly, intending to give her a bear hug, but he went for her face first, and the dog reacted on instinct, snapping . . . and catching Parker's mouth in her jaws. Poor thing immediately realized what she had done, recoiled in horror and, while we were trying to stop the bleeding and assess the damage, wove in and out of our legs, clearly distraught and giving her very best nonverbal apology.
Yup - cut on the top, pretty deep. Stitches most definitely called for.
So we piled into two cars and headed for Cook Children's, the Dad and Parker slightly ahead of Connor and me. And then Guilt Fest 2011 began in earnest in the back seat:
"He wanted to play my Star Wars game. I told him that he would have to wait to use my computer. If he'd been on my computer, he wouldn't have been messing with the dog."
I barely heard him, as I was too busy thinking, 'If we'd gone to brunch like we planned, we would have been in the car at 10:50. Or if we'd gone to church and hadn't gone to brunch, we probably would have stopped by the store . . . .'
And then I got a grip on reality. The kid has been spoiling for an animal bite for as long as he's been mobile. Lifetime, he's probably been on the receiving end of a thousand warnings. Sooner or later, his number was going to come up. If not at 10:50 am on Sunday, January 2, 2011, then at some point in the future. And, maybe, at that future point, his head would be positioned slightly differently, and we'd be rushing to the hospital with an ear lobe packed in ice. So, all things considered, a cut above his lip a third of an inch long - not the end of the world.
I shared all of this with my older child, who - truth be told - was pretty freaked out for his little brother. I pointed out that, statistically, we had done fairly well making it this far without the need for stitches. I reminded him of his own ER trips (two broken arms, one bead in ear canal). We discussed the fact that "broken arm" and "bead" were both B words, and maybe Parker's injury predispositions would center on D for "dog bite." We brainstormed possible D injuries, and Connor concluded that "Doing Dumb stuff" pretty much would cover all of the bases.
By this time, we were in the ER and being ushered back to where the Dad and the six year-old were waiting for Paul the Stitch Tech. Six year-old was taped and gauze-d up, resting relatively comfortably in a hospital bed and clutching his stuffed chimpanzee puppet . . . while watching "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs."
Being the same movie that we saw just before Connor broke his arm . . . the last time.
Connor and I said it at the same time: "Seriously?" Then he added: "Hey, Mom - this is the shirt that I was wearing when I broke my arm, too. What are the odds?"
What are the odds, indeed? My sense of perspective started to waver, warring with a rising sense of paranoia - and a strong desire to burn that shirt. But then I reestablished The Grip: the odds of Connor having his purple camo t-shirt on when we have to take a trip to the ER actually aren't all that great, given that he LURRRRRRVES his purple camo t-shirt and would wear it every day if I let him. And the fact that they popped "Cloudy" in the DVD player was a coincidence, plain and simple. That, or Parker selected it. Maybe HE decided to make it an ER trip tradition.
Long story short, Mom and Dad had to make a statement (yes, we know the dog - it's our dog; yes, she's up to date on her shots - we just kenneled her when we went out of town in November, and being current on vaccinations is a requirement for kenneling). We were warned that we might be getting a visit and/or a phone call from the police department and/or Animal Control. Lovely, just lovely. Parker got three stitches in his upper lip, and fussed the entire time, but - knowing Parker - I'm fairly sure that most of the fussing was for dramatic effect. (It's never too early to start working on the Oscar submission reel.) I laughed when Paul the Stitch Tech referred to the stitches as "string bandages," because "if you don't tell them that they are getting stiches, they don't even know what is going on." Yeah, okay - my kid's a little bit more savvy than that.
So imagine my chagrin when, three hours after getting back to the house, Parker passed a mirror and asked, "What are these thread things in my lip? It's like they stitched my skin."
Cook's being a children's hospital, Parker got a popsicle for his troubles (as did his brother). Wondering if there will be a separate line item on the bill for those. (I do give Cook's credit for not charging you to remove stitches - you show up between 7 and 9 am, they do them right then and there in a designated part of the waiting room. Oh, and no charge for parking if you have a bar code sticker on your shirt, identifying you as the parent or guardian of a patient.)
This being the 21st century, Parker also had his choice of movies to watch on a hospital-owned iPod, which the sweet patient care specialist held over his eyes for him. Because Paul the Stitch Tech was blocking his view of "Cloudy."
For the record, the second time, he opted for "Bolt." No bad karma there - yet.
Connor promised Parker that he could have unlimited access to his computer when we got home. Then Connor and I went to Super Target to fill Parker's antibiotic prescription, and we killed time by assembling a care package for the small patient. In addition to a new tube of Neosporin and the SPF 45 lip balm with Vitamin E oil recommended by Paul the Stitch Tech, we picked up: a Sponge Bob "boo boo" pack to put in the freezer (made of vinyl, not fabric, so bleed on it all you want, kid); a Star Wars coloring book from the Dollar Spot; a package of Batman and Robin mini notepads and some Batman magnets, also from the Dollar Spot (SUPER TARGET: WHY DO YOU TORTURE ME BY STOCKING BATMAN ITEMS AFTER THE KID'S BIRTHDAY? DID YOU NOT GET THE MEMO THAT YOUR NUMBER ONE BATMAN CONSUMER CELEBRATES HIS BIRTHDAY IN THE FALL?); a Batman easy reader featuring Superman and Wonder Woman; and some DC Comics Mighty Beans. (Notice a theme? Only reason the boo boo pack was Sponge Bob and the coloring book was Star Wars was that Batman was not available.) Connor contributed some of his allowance money towards the cost of the Mighty Beans, which I thought was awfully sweet. Sufficiently sweet that I agreed that the "Batman: Under the Red Hood" DVD that was supposed to go into the care package bag would be a family gift, not a Parker gift.
When will I learn? We stopped at Sonic and got Parker a half-orange, half-green apple slush, just the way he likes it, and as soon as Connor walked in the door, Paul Frank bag full o' Batman junk in one hand and nasty, toxic waste-colored slush in the other, he advised his brother, "We got you the slush that you like and some gifts. I helped pay for the gifts. So the deal with the computer is off. Because I just offered you computer time when I thought that you weren't getting anything else."
In retrospect, Parker showed admirable restraint in not retaliating. Halfway surprised that we didn't end up back at the ER, with an eleven year-old sporting human teeth marks somewhere on his person.
And it's only the second day of the new year . . . sigh.