Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Radio Flyer Goes Flying

Pop quiz, hot shot. What's the worst feeling in the world for a parent?

Answer: seeing your kid get hurt. 

Follow up question: Assuming it's possible, what makes that feeling worse?

Answer: being responsible for your kid getting hurt.

A quiet evening with the family took a decidedly scary and guilt-ridden turn last night when we decided to take the boy to a nearby park we often frequent. On my way outside, I grabbed the boy's tricycle, left it at the top of the driveway and joined the boy and the Mrs. 
Like any good Leafs fan, I can find a way to blame this
guy for everything. (Sorry Dion.)

No sooner did I walk outside then did Mrs. Blackwell decide that she needed to run back inside for a moment. She informed me she was running back inside. Naturally, I heard her and, even more naturally, her message went in one ear and out the other. 

It was a beautiful evening. About 70 degrees. A few of the lightest, whitest, pillowy clouds hung against a perfectly blue sky. As I stood at the top of our driveway, my mind wandered slowly and aimlessly, considering the beauty around me and whether the Maple Leafs are ever going to trade Dion Phaneuf.

Then — and I'm not sure what triggered it first, be it my eyes or my ears — but I turned to see my son gliding backwards down the incline that serves as our driveway — quickly.  

If this were a grown man, you might laugh. (Put Will Ferrell in that position and hilarity ensues.) However, when it's your kid, you fail to find humor. 

That said, I yelled his name and sprinted quickly.

Like nearly every man in my family I've been gifted with the speed of a 75-year-old man. The upside of this affliction is that one has a lot of time to consider what is happening before arriving at his destination.

From the angle of his descent, I could tell the boy was not going to reach the street at the end of the driveway. That was good. The front wheel of the trike was turned and turning, and turning, and turning further. He was veering toward the grass, an ideal destination, but the wheel was turning too sharply and sharper with each foot of the path he was blazing. 

Before it happened, I knew the wheel would pivot too far and cause the trike to overturn before he made it to the grass. The only question was, how bad this was going to be? 

I got my answer quickly.

No sooner had I made the determination of what was going to happen then it happened. The trike tipped and the boy's momentum cleared him of the three-wheeled menace and onto his back. 

The bulk of his weight came down onto his shoulder and upper back before his head followed through. When I saw his head hit, I knew he'd be OK. He wasn't going that fast and the impact was by no measure significant enough to hurt him. 

I can say that now. At the time I assumed all manner of awfulness, accompanied by a litany of vivid visuals. This all happened in the amount of time it took me to move 15 feet, as fast as I possibly could. (I wasn't kidding about my speed deficit.)

Pictured: one creature capable of running quickly.  

By the time I reached the boy, he'd drawn silent. His eyes were squinted and he was drawing in the necessary air to unleash a furious cry. He was scared, hurt, ticked off, annoyed and, most importantly, perfectly OK. 

When Mrs. Blackwell returned, I was holding a crying toddler and the tricycle was overturned. Her detective skills were hardly taxed and, even if they were, I had "World's worst Father" written in my eyes. 

Naturally, Mrs. Blackwell flipped out, but successfully suppressed her reaction so as not to add fuel to this fire. (One could argue that if you can suppress the urge to flip out, then you've successfully avoided flipping out. One could argue that...)

That said, in a matter of minutes, she'd phoned the doctor's office and gave an unnecessarily detailed account of what'd happened, including  the brand name of the tricycle. (Fortunately she opted not to include the words "neglectful, derelict" and "father.")

The diagnosis was clear, as were our instructions. He's fine but, keep an eye on him just to be certain.

Barely a half hour after the incident, we were dancing to the boy's favorite song and mimicking his dance steps, which caused him to giggle. It was the first time we've played this game. The boy shook his hips and we followed suit. 

The boy yelled "Stop!" and we did. The boy yelled "Dance!" and we did. 

The boy smiled and naturally we did too. And, in between, I exhaled in relief. 

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