I finally became a real father this past weekend.
Sure, there are lots of milestones that you pass through on
your journey to complete parentdom.
There are the sweet ones like the first time your child calls you “Da-Da”
or the first time they kiss you on the cheek unsolicited.
Then there are the less sweet, but just as significant
moments, such as when your son pees on you while you’re changing his diaper, or
the first time you’re wiping up vomit off of the bedroom floor at 3 am.
Ah, good times.
Yes, all of these moments make up a complete parenting
resume, and with three kids under my belt, I have checked off just about all of these little boxes, save
one: the late night trip to the
I can’t say I was worried by the absence of this critical
piece of the parenting puzzle, but at the same time I knew it was coming and
was kind of ready to get it over with.
Thank goodness for Thursday night.
It was at the end of a fairly long week. My wife had worked late every night and so
parenting had been a one man job for a while.
So, I had taken the kids out for dinner (kids eat free with adult entrée
at California Tortilla!) and they
were all running around for a few minutes before bed. I was upstairs putting some laundry away when
my daughter comes running upstairs to tell me that Asher had fallen off the
playset and hurt himself.
We have this large, ugly plastic playset that I picked up on
the side of the road a few years ago. It’s in what used to be the formal living
room before we bought the house and is now a huge tacky playroom for the
munchkins. Our children have all become
climbing masters. They scale this thing
and swing on it and cavort around it like a squabbling band of chimpanzees and
of course, every once in a while, somebody falls off of it on to the plush
carpet that once used to host wine tasting parties and now hosts leftover
cheerios and polly pocket shoes.
About 6 months ago, Asher fell for the 400th time
and banged his head on the corner of a bookshelf. This was deemed serious enough that we took
him to the nighttime pediatrics location and they glued his head back
They used glue and “stickers” to hold the gash
together. They said the bandages would
fall off by themselves, and sure enough, almost 4 months later when we were
playing at an indoor playset at the mall, I looked up and the grey, scraggly
bandage that had been stuck to my son’s forehead for 100 days or so was
missing, presumably now on the bottom of someone’s shoe, or in the mouth of an overly
We moved the bookshelf, repositioned the playset and the
kids had once again been playing happily and safely. Of course, they still fell occasionally, but
that’s all part of the game, isn’t it?
So, Audra comes yelling that Asher fell and hurt himself.
So I go downstairs.
There’s Asher lying on the floor crying, but it’s not his
“Oh my gosh! The pain is killing me!”
cry. It was more of his “Wah wah, this
hurts, but mainly I just want to cry and be dramatic and get some attention
Well, not in this house!
I pick him up and tell him that I’m sorry he’s hurt. I check his head and don’t see any bruises or
bumps. I stroke his head and kiss it
But he’s still crying.
So, I tell him, “Well, if it hurts this bad, you must need
to go straight to bed.”
He’s still crying.
I take him to his room and lay him down in his bed and say, Tthe
rest of the family is going to go downstairs and watch the Olympics, but if you
need to cry, you can stay up in your room and go to sleep.”
He immediately rolls over.
…….um….. that’s not normal.
I turn the lights off and go downstairs. As the minutes pass by and he doesn’t appear
in the living room ready to admit that he’s lost this battle of wills, my mind
starts to race.
Ohmigosh! Ohmigosh! I bet he bumped his head and had one of those
sub dermal hematoma things just like in the John Grisham book I read. He’s going to go into a coma right now as we
speak and have brain damage and have to eat strained peas through a straw for
the rest of his life while watching the View.
I cant’ let that happen!
I go back upstairs and Asher is asleep…. At 8:00 at night!
Holy crap! It’s more
serious than I thought! I take the small
frog flashlight that Asher sleeps with and used it to do a thorough
examination. I know I’m supposed to
wave the light in front of his eyeballs, but what the hell am I looking for? Am I just supposed to make sure that the
eyeballs are still there, or are they supposed to do something?
Asher startles awake, crying again. I am relieved that he woke up and that he
won’t have to spend his entire life as a vegetable. I ask him if he wants to watch TV and he says
yes. So I take him downstairs and he
instantly falls asleep on my lap.
This is exactly what happened in that Grisham book! And I already know that I’m going to lose the
lawsuit against the evil insurance company!
A few minutes later my wife walks in and I tell her what happened;
omitting most of the part about how I thought Asher was fake crying.
We make a few calls and decide that we need to take him to the emergency room.
And here we are.
So I load up my sleeping son and take him to the hospital
where I stand around in this hallway with a living example of everything that’s
wrong with our health care system.
There’s the lady with a toothache, the old man who looks lost, and the
weird young guy in a wheel chair who keeps coughing as loudly as possible while
all of the nurses ignore him and roll their eyes. I don’t know what the heck’s wrong with that
guy, but it aint normal.
Then they check Asher’s temperature, weight and vitals, all
of which he sleeps through. Then I take
him and put him on my shoulder while we sit and wait to be called. We only have to wait a mercifully short time
before a surly young nurse who looked like her boyfriend just texted to say he
was leaving her for a stripper named Bubbles called us to follow her.
She never said hello or introduced herself. She just led us to a room, sulked in the
corner and asked us a few questions before leaving. I laid Asher down on the bed, covered him
with a blanket and pulled out a book. It
was going to be a long night.
While I’m reading these, two really loud nurses are chatting
in the hallway. One’s talking about how
she’s applying for other jobs and this head hunter is sending her application
around to other places. The conversation
went something like this:
“So the guy calls and says he’s got something out in Western
Kentucky, and I’m like ah man, what the heck is in Western
Kentucky? Just some redneck
hicks? So I called my boyfriend and he’s
like, ‘man it must be like Podunk, Kentucky
or something like that.’ And then I get a call back from this head hunter
guy and he says this city’s name is like “pah-dook” or something like that and
we just laughed and laughed cause it sounded just like Podunk, but we couldn’t
find it on a map or anything! Can you
Because my son was lying in the hospital with a possible
brain injury direct from a legal thriller I decided not to go up to this woman
and tell her that, actually, the name of the town was Paducah and that my
father happens to be the City Manager and that it is home to the National Quilt
Museum that my mother happens to be the director of and that it is actually a
very cute little town with a thriving arts district.
Honestly, I think Paducah
dodged a bullet on that one.
Anyway, a few minutes later a very nice man came into the room
and introduced himself as the Physician’s assistant. He had a distinguished beard and a long pony
tail in a braid. He listened to what had
happened, examined Asher, was able to locate a small bump on the back of his
head and told me that he was sure there was nothing wrong, but that since Asher
was not acting normally, that a cat scan was worth doing.
So, a few minutes later someone took me down the hallway to a fancy pants MRI
machine that looked like a giant donut.
It was just like one of those GE commercials where they’re showing you
all of their fancy equipment and telling you that now GE has the technology to
show your internal organs in color and stuff like that.
Well, Asher is still asleep, we put him on the little tray,
cover him with a lead blanket and then the magic machine starts moving around
silently taking little picture of his little brain. A few minutes later the not particularly
friendly technician dismisses us and we head back to our room. I put Asher back in the bed, cover him and
turn off the lights. In a few minutes
we’re both asleep until our pony tailed savior returns to announce that the Cat
scan was clear and that our little boy is 100% ok.
And so, relieved, I pick him up, take him home and put him
The next morning Asher woke up a little groggy, but
fine. He came down stairs and pointed to
the little hospital bracelet on his wrist and said, “what’s this?”
He had slept through the whole ordeal and had no recollection of even going to
So, all in all, our first parental trip to the emergency was
a flying success. We escaped with merely
a plastic bracelet and some vague memories.
Well…. and a little something else.
Saturday morning I woke with some weird, sinus coughing disease that I still
haven’t quite shaken three days later.
If I end up in a wheel chair hacking my lungs out while the
nurses all shake their heads dismissively I’ll know I’m in real trouble,
because I’ve read that Grisham book too and I don’t win a million dollar
settlement in that one either.