Monday, February 8, 2016

Ice vs the Blackwells

It's been a mild winter here in Wisconsin but it's still cold.

And when it's cold, there's ice. And, when there's ice, there's accidents. And when there's accidents, I'm often in them.

And, when I'm in them they're usually painful. Funny to look at, sure, but painful.

My propensity for ice-related mishaps is decades-long and one that I might be passing on to my oldest son (more on that later). The jury is still out on the new boy but, once he starts walking I'll be keeping a watchful eye.

During the winter of my sixth grade year, the kids spent recesses congregating on a wide slab of frozen ground in the middle of our playground. I went down when a large (let's call him "husky") child slid across the ice out of control and at a high rate of speed. By the time I saw this man child hurtling toward me, it was too late. I fell back, my head smacked the ice and I got a concussion.

The new guy and mom. Taking it easy instead of testing the
surly bonds of gravity and its longtime accomplice, ice.
It wasn't until we got back into class and I couldn't remember where my desk was that any of the teachers knew something was wrong.

Another time in grade 10, at the height of my teenage awkwardness, I attempted to negotiate a frozen puddle in front of my school. It was located next to the school's main doors, right where the buses let out. In short, the last place you'd want to fall.

With hundreds of classmates as witness, I tried to traverse this puddle. No sooner did I start to walk then did I start to slip. Like any good fall, there was a flicker of a moment in which it looked like I'd recover before succumbing to gravity.

In short order, both my feet both went out in front of me. To ensure maximum visibility my gym bag windmilled high through the air as my arms flailed. Mercifully but painfully it ended with me on my back.

A few people laughed but more were probably confused by the spectacle.

Then there was the time about five years ago when I went skating with Mrs. Blackwell. After about 30 minutes of showing her what a fantastic skater I am, she was done. I decided to go for "one more lap" around the rink. As I rounded the halfway point, someone fell in front of me and because I'm such a strong skater, I couldn't turn quickly enough.

Instead, I lost an edge, fell back and broke my wrist. Mrs. Blackwell had purchased tickets to a St. Louis Blues hockey game that night which we had to leave midway through the second period so that I could go to an emergency room.

All that said, I've found something far worse than having an accident on the ice. It's watching your kid have one.

Such was the case on a recent morning when I took Master Blackwell to school. He was in a fine mood during our ride. He jumped in the car, requested NPR, and we proceeded to talk about the plight of the middle east as we made our way to day care.

Kidding. He was in a terrible mood and in no way did he want to discuss the middle east, not on this day. No sir. We were at about the seven-minute mark of our 12-minute car ride when he finally stopped crying.

That said, the last five minutes of our drive was pleasant. I reached back and patted his knee and he didn't yell at me, so we were in a good place. By the time we arrived, he was himself.

Alas it was to be short lived.

As I pulled into a parking spot, I noticed some patches of ice atop the rough asphalt. I slowed down and proceeded accordingly.

That was the last thought I had of the ice until just moments after I'd released the boy from his child seat and we took our first steps toward the building.

My eyes were fixed forward while my hand was open and stretched backward for the boy to grab onto.

But, the instant his hand should have been grabbing mine was replaced with both his hands smacking the sharp, jagged asphalt.

I didn't see it. I just heard the simultaneous smack of soft, bare hands hitting the cold, craggy ground and the thud of the rest of his body following suit.

He hit hard. He landed with the entirety of his front, only his face was spared.

Accidents in the cold always, always, always hurt more too. I saw the look of shock in his eyes and new it was a bad one.

He cried and I scooped him up as quickly as I could and sought to make it better.

Of course there's not a whole lot you can do to make it better. It had to run its course. Once we got inside I noticed his pants were ripped and his hands were gleaming read. We made our way to the nearest bathroom and I used warm water on his raw little palms.

Slowly, his crying waned and by the time we returned to the classroom, he required no more consoling and wanted only his Mickey Mouse doll and his favorite blanket.

He was calm, though still a little shaken. Not unlike his dad.

It didn't take me long to put this most recent reminder of winter's peril to use. When I arrived at work, I noticed that the concrete in front of the entrance was snow that had been flattened, and flattened some more until it'd become ice.

I noticed how the light reflected off it like a warning to me. Just moments after she'd proved herself to me here was nature challenging me.

With that in mind, I went in another door.

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