Couple weeks ago my 9 year old son Evan was out in the front yard with his buddy Miles bouncing around on one of those Swings that attaches to a tree branch via a giant spring and some rope. (Pic Above is the Spring itself)
Since I was inside keeping my daughters from beating each other’s brains in at the time I didn’t actually SEE what particular brand of jumping the boys were doing on the swing, but knowing 9 year old boys as I do I imagine it involved significant amounts of torque and gravitational forces challenging bounce-ability. (“Wonder if this thing can shoot us onto the roof? Yeah. Yeah! Try it! Try it!)
Moments later Evan comes charging into the house and says “Dad, Dad, come quick, Miles got hurt!”
By the time I hit the back door I knew the kid wasn’t exaggerating. Our normally stoic pal Miles was hitting decibel levels that haven’t been heard since the Who’s “World’s Loudest Band Phase” hey-day back in the late 70s.
Since I wasn’t savvy enough to snap a picture of Miles at that very moment, let me offer a feeble attempt and describing the scene:
Take one 10 year old blonde headed boy. Now stick his head in a large vat of spaghetti sauce for at least 36 hours so everything from his neck up, including his eyes, turns a wonderfully goopy shade of red. When you pull his head out of the spaghetti sauce, roll him around in the grass for a few minutes and then take him directly to a pile of dirt and roll his head around in that, not unlike coating a chicken breast with bread crumbs.
Now take out a can of really bright red spray paint and use it on the kid’s arms. From the tips of his fingers to somewhere past his elbows must be ENTIRELY covered in paint for this to be an accurate representation.
Okay, now stand back, admire your work and imagine that all the spaghetti sauce and spray paint is actually BLOOD, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the visual picture.
Oh, and don’t forget to throw in the ear piercing screams of one very hurt and very scared 10 year old boy.
If I’m totally honest with myself (which I’m usually not, but in this case I’ll make an exception) my first thought was: Wow…this would be a REALLY good time to be a Doctor. Or a Nurse. Or an EMT. Or a Mom. Or anything other than a slacker white boy Dad with very little in the way of medical skills, which unfortunately, is what I am.
The limited amount of common sense I have suggested that if I managed to get the 6 or 8 ounces of blood out of Miles eyes, that might alleviate some of the panic reaction, so I grabbed a wash cloth and tried to wipe him down. This is was roughly as effective as painting the Eiffel Tower with a Q-Tip, but I figured a kid with a giant gash in his noggin probably wouldn’t take too kindly to being hosed down in the front yard like a damn farm animal.
As I’m wiping Miles down I ask Evan what exactly happened. Though the answer was jumbled at best, it seems that both boys were jumping on the swing at the same time when the rope holding it to the tree snapped, which in turn extended and released the huge-ass spring that gave the swing its jumpee power, which caused the spring to come flying off the swing like a wayward boomerang, smacking Miles clean in the head and causing the…oh….I dunno….3 or 4 inch ginsu knife slice in his head that I can just baaaaaarely make out through the matted blood in his hair.
At this point, I just want to have all the information available to me so I know what to tell Miles’ Mom, and the Cops, and Child Protective Services when they show up at my door.
Okay. So at this point, Miles Bloody Miles is moderately calm. Now that I’m relatively sure he hasn’t lost an eyeball or anything, I’m actually relatively calm too. My 3 kids and a few neighbor kids are sitting there looking at Miles as if he just walked out of a Martian Space Ship when one of them says “Wow, Miles. That’s a lot of blood. I bet you’re going to need stitches.”
Unbeknownst to us, our buddy Miles has a “thing” about stitches. And by “thing” I mean, a mostly rational when you think about it, but very very EXTREME reaction to the idea of anyone using a needle and thread to close up the rip in his melon. (And hell, who could blame him?)
Now that we’ve said the magic word, panic has set in again, and Miles is not only worried about the possibility of– duh-duh-DUH….STITCHES…but also the possibility that his Mom will KILL him for getting blood all over his clothes.
In order to distract him from the stitches idea, I really did consider saying “You know, buddy, you’re right! I think your Mom is gonna be really pissed about getting blood on your clothes! We better get them washed before she gets here!” But that seemed like one of those things that the parenting experts would frown heavily upon, so instead I tried to talk some logic to young Miles while waiting for the arrival of Super-Mom.
(Note: Talking logic to a 10 year old boy is an inherently STUPID idea. Especially when the 10 year old boy has just suffered moderate head trauma and significant blood loss. I don’t recommend it at all.)
So, a few minutes later, Miles’ Mom Penne pulls up to inspect the damage I’ve inflicted on her son.
Here in the overly-litigious, lawsuit-happy, and parental over-involvement world of 2010 I’d expect most Mom’s would’ve come charging out of the car and running toward their kid in a fit of hysterics screaming “Oh…my BABY….my BABY! What have they done to you? Are you okay? Don’t worry honey, once we get you fixed up, we’re going to sue these suckers for everything they got!”
Fortunately, Penne is a farm girl, not given to fits of random hysteria (though I should probably ask her husband Doug about that) who probably got pretty skilled at pulling family members limbs out of farm machinery and whacking the heads off chickens before she was in Kindergarten. Which is to say, she’s concerned, but fairly non-plussed by this whole Circus of Dementia currently happening on my front lawn.
Penne looks at Miles and says “Let’s take you over to the ER and get that head fixed up, Mister. Ev– grab your stuff if you still want to have a sleep over tonight.” And that was about it.
I may have imagined it, but before they left, Miles came up and looked at me through the crusty blood around his eyelids, shook my hand and said “Thanks for letting me come over, Mike”.
(Note: if you’ve not had a bloody child who was injured on your property THANK you for your hospitality and generosity, then you really haven’t experienced all that the world of parenting has to offer.)
On their way out the door, Penne said, “Hey, Mike. GOOD job watching the kids. Way to go.” (I think she was kidding.)
I said, “Hey, at least I fed him dinner before he cracked his melon open!”
Which is, in fact, true, but is not likely to land me any parent of the year awards any time soon.
On the upside, all of my kid’s friends are now scared to come to my house if Anne isn’t here.
See? Even when I lose I still win.