Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I’m Gonna Knock You Upside The Head

My grandmother use to tell Jason and I that if we didn’t behave, she would take one of us and knock the other in the head with him, which we always found wildly hilarious. Just the image of my grandmother picking up one of us by the ankles like a 2x4 and swinging him at the head of the other had us rolling on the floor. We would further exasperate her by asking such running-gag nonsensical musings like, “What if there were five of us?” She would play along by responding, “I would take one of you and knock the other four in the head with him.” Again, hilarity followed, and we would continue to ask the same question but with an ever-increasing number of kids for as long as she could stand it.

In her honor, I’ve tried to include this little threat with Matthew and Natalie, telling them that I would take one of them and knock the other in the head with him if they didn't behave, but so far, they haven’t caught on to the second dimension of the joke. I look forward to when they do, because it means that my grandmother didn’t threaten violence on us young kids in vain.

Meanwhile, I didn’t fully consider that Natalie would take the whole knock-yourself-in-the-head-so-they-have-to-call-the-paramedics seriously, otherwise I would have answered the phone this morning.

Mondays for me means a long meeting via conference call with all of the guys on my team as well as my immediate editor and sometimes some other project well wishers who have some impractical suggestions on how to get our tasks completed under budget and on time, which we have rarely been either. The call lasts from around 10:30 until nearly noon, at which time I have to pick up Gnat from school. During the beginning of the call, I can keep Matty busy with TV and when he gets bored, he’ll come up and make funny noises/faces at me until I have to cover the phone so my people won’t hear their leader laughing for random reasons (it’s the first sign of insanity).

Today was no exception from any typical Monday. Gnat was off to school and Matthew and I were left to our own devices until my conference call. However, the coincidental thing that made today different was that I was expecting a couple of phone calls. I usually don’t try to do anything that might disrupt my meetings but since we’re getting the house refinanced I expected a call from the broker and one from an appraiser. About 10:45, only 15 minutes into my meeting, the call waiting started beeping. I couldn’t click over at that part of the meeting because I was doing most of the talking, plus I’m not a “click over” kind of guy when it comes to call waiting. That’s why it’s called “call waiting.” I’m on the phone, your call can wait. A couple of minutes later, the call waiting beeped again, which made perfect sense to me: The loan broker contacted the appraiser to call me and set up an appointment and that guy was taking care of business.

But, a few minutes later, call waiting beeped in again. Okay, someone else is calling. Then it did it again… and again. Even though someone was obviously trying their best to reach me, I made the assumption it was the loan broker diligently checking to see if I had returned home yet so I could lock in the current rate (talking to him gave me the impression he was really on the ball).

About 11:00, Matthew arrives on the scene in my office and proceeds in his usual antics, and it is at this time I get up and walk around the house, partly to amuse Matthew and partly to get away from him so I can get a few words in edgewise in my meeting without having a giggly kid in the background. It’s not exactly professional to have a bunch of background noise (though one woman on my team has horses and she sometimes joins the meeting from the stables), and the more I run from Matthew, the funnier it is to him and the more he laughs. Professional Daddy/Professional Editor is a double-edged sword sometimes. Another reason I’m up from my desk is that I don’t need to use my computer anymore, as the part of the meeting where I have reference schedules and protocols is at the first part, and the second part of the meeting is planning. And I’m a phone pacer, as I like to walk around the house when I talk. It helps me think.

The call waiting beeped once or twice more but by this time, I was ignoring it. Whoever it was passed the point of diligence and is now stepping into restraining order territory. While I talked, I got Natalie’s bag ready as she had a play date after school with a classmate at a nearby park. She likes to bring something to drink and a snack that she can share with her little friend.

The meeting ended early for a change, around 11:20, and it was great timing as Matthew looked up at me and announced, “I pooped!” On the way up the stairs to change him, I decided to check the messages and find out who was so rushed to reach me. There were four, which seemed to make sense. The first two were related to the house, the third one was regarding a book signing that I’m doing on Saturday for my book that just came out and the last one was from Natalie’s school. I didn’t catch the name, but she was laughing at our cute outgoing message of Natalie reciting some ABCs… when she was about two… and then she said that Natalie got a little bump on her head and she’d like me to come down and check her out.

Her voice suggested to me that it wasn’t too serious, so I didn’t run out of the house without shoes with a naked Matthew slung under one arm, but I sped up the process a bit. We grabbed the snack bag (hey, a little bump shouldn’t stop us from going to the park, right?) and I drove down to her school.

The paramedics truck parked in the driveway of the school was the first sign that it wasn’t a little bump, and I started to worry a little, and Kara racing into the parking lot was my next clue that it was slightly more serious. She flashed me that “what the hell were you doing while my baby was hurt” look of disapproval that she metes out from time to time. And then the wail of the ambulance fast approaching leaves that uneasy feeling in a parent’s stomach.

When Kara and I (and Matthew too) filed into the front office of Natalie’s school, it was filled with a half-dozen burly firemen surrounded poor little pasty-white-faced Natalie sitting on the assistant director’s lap (actually our neighbor from down the street) with life-saving equipment strewn about. They checked her pulse, breathing, eyes…oh yeah, and that small golf-ball that was trying to push itself out of her right temple. Natalie sat there with a cold compress to her head looking around at all the busy activity directed at her. She wasn’t crying, and they said she didn’t cry at all (though later Natalie admitted that she did and who could blame her?).

The director of the school handed me a little “oops” form she had filled out that I didn’t need to read. From what they told us, the girls were chasing the boys around the playground and she ran into another girl, bounced off of her and slammed her head into a pole. The little girl she ran into called the teacher over, who took Natalie to the front office. When they couldn’t reach me, they called Kara, and when Natalie started to complain that she felt sick to her stomach and was starting to fall asleep, they called the paramedics.

We arrived about five minutes after they did. The lead paramedic said she checked out okay but if we wanted to cancel the ambulance—which was steadily approaching the whole time we were there—we could (which we did …. hey, there’s a standing rule in my house: no blood or broken bones, no free ride in a cool ambulance to drive a mile and a half down the road to the local hospital that would cost good old dad a small fortune).

The paramedics said she’d be fine, but they did suggest we take her in so she could be officially checked out. And as much as I loath urgent care, we sat there surrounded by the unwashed masses (and I mean that literally) to wait to see the doctor for a little peace of mind. I’ve decided that I’d rather bleed to death than sit in urgent care and I’ve given Kara a do-not-resuscitate order if ever I have to go back there again. I’d rather go to Wal-Mart.

The doctor, of course, said she’d be fine. He handed us a piece of paper with symptoms on it, saying that if she has any of them, bring her back. She didn’t, so deciding that the 10 dollar co-pay was money well spent is up for conjecture.

Once we got home, she spent some time on the couch watching some movies while Matthew and I napped… then it was business as usual for the rest of the evening, with the running and the screaming.

So, it was a fairly exciting day... slightly overprotective what with the paramedics, firemen and ambulance, but exciting nonetheless. I am usually critical of people who contact medical professionals at the slightest sign of injury (remember, I scoff at those that see a doctor for a cold), but in all honesty, I'm glad that they called the paramedics on this one. Head injuries can be sneaky and the damages suffered from untreated concussions can be long-lasting and sometimes fatal.

And that's all the difference between having an exciting day and a tragic one.

However, I’m sure when Natalie looks in the mirror at the new bump on her head she'll be pleased to see that it is a nice shade of purple, her favorite color.


Yard Sale Princess said...

OH boy, are you still in trouble? I am on Kara's side in this one, sorry Ryan. Give the school your cell number! How's she doing now?

Ryan or Kara said...

Well, they do have my cell phone number, but I never carry my cell phone with me, especially in the house. It stays in my truck and goes with me when I'm out.


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