life on the funny farm

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Switching Genres

I think most people would classify my life as a comedy, simply b/c there is almost always some hair-brained thing goin' on around here that will bring on a case of the chuckles. After last night, however, my life has taken a decided turn from comedy to disaster movie. One of those flicks where everyone is screaming and running in a blind panic.

After getting deluged with rain for the last few days, to the point where I was starting to pair up my animals and get out the lumber, we finally had some drop-dead gorgeous weather. The kind the kids wanted to go out and play in, instead of going on threat of consequences if they didn't get their butts off the couch and get some fresh air, dammit.

So for a few treasured moments I had the house to myself as my young ones frolicked and cavorted outside, riding bikes and scooters, drawing pictures in the driveway, playing a little basketball. I was starting to prepare dinner and review in my head the list of evening's activities, including Karate for Julie, homework and studying with Bella, and taking James to his "job" where he tutors a friend of ours in Russian. Mentally planning what preparations were needed for our trip out of state day after tomorrow for my father-in-law's funeral. Relatively simple, quiet night.
Until all hell broke loose.

Seems Patrick and James were playing outside and started having one of those knuckle-headed Boys Will Be Boys Moments. They HAVE NOT and probably WILL NEVER learn that if one gives tit, the other gives tat and it's done. Even-Steven, game over. No. Tit, tat. Schmit, schmat, and on and on it escalates up the ladder till they've reached the precarious top rung and there's no turning back. And so it went yesterday, and they followed/chased each other inside and fists were flying in my kitchen.

To sweeten the pot, the last few weeks Patrick has been walking around with this broken bat. It's split in half, top to bottom (I don't even want to know how it happened or where it came from). He's been walking around with it like a tot with his Blankie for some indeterminate Testosterone-based reason. So of course, when he took an outraged swing at James' head, bat connected with skull. James of course swung back and I threw myself headfirst into the frey. I broke them apart like a diminutive ref between two prizefighters. As I sent them to their separate corners and tried to process what just happened, I glanced at the floor and saw blood. A good bit.
"Who's bleeding?", I bellowed. Patrick had gone upstairs, but James was in the next room and came back in, bleeding pretty heavily down his ear and face and neck. Blood splatter covered his shirt and shorts. I sat him down and tried to find the wellspring beneath his thick curls. When I finally discovered it I did a silent-film star knuckles-biting gasp and grabbed my keys.

Instead of going to Fred's hospital, which is more than a half hour away, I opted for our little local hospital, which is about a 5 minute drive. I figured I didn't have Fred as leverage anyway since he was right then attending a conference as far away from us he could be and still be in the continental US.
But I should have gone to Christiana.

After James was seen by the triage nurse, we waited over three hours in the waiting room before we were taken back for treatment. Poor James was dizzy and hurt, but at least the bleeding had stopped. After a bit, he lay his head in my lap to rest and I began pulling the strands of blood-soaked hair away so I could get a better look at the incision. The people in the chairs across from us saw his wound and reacted with horror (see silent movie star reference above). Naturally they wanted to know what happened. Now, I'm all for honesty in my kids, but a measure of discretion would be a good thing, too, as I soon learned when my youngest yelled out for all in the lobby to hear, "My brother hit him with a BAT!"

Can you say White Trash? Can you say Reality TV? Not that it mattered, for I soon learned that my daughter had been texting with blinding speed, sending out all the gory, embarassing details for all the world to read about on Facebook. Great.

While we were waiting, the kids were getting antsy, so I told them they could go outside to walk around. It's a very rural area. The hospital has a hitching post for God's sake. I'm not kidding. So I thought it would do them some good to get some sunshine. But at one point when I was trying to get a visual on my youngest, I couldn't spot him anywhwere. I told my daughters to sit with James and I ran outside, calling his name, looking in my car and behind the pine trees. He was nowhere. So I ran back inside and over to the window where the clerk or nurse had checked us in and very calmly said,
"I CAN'T FIND MY SON!!!!!!!"

To which she replied
(and here I pause for effect)

"Oh, wow, I don't know what to tell ya' "

I was speechless in dismay for almost a full heartbeat and then sedately asked her if perhaps she couldn't


Luckily my brain's editing faculties were in full working order or it might have been neccessary to clean up that quote.

But just then Daniel walked in. I checked myself from throttling him (we were, after all, in the presence of medical and law professionals) and asked him where the bleep he had gone off to.

"Well, you told me I could go for a walk, so I walked around the building".
I wasn't kidding when I said it's a small, rural hospital.
So glad he stopped to consider my SANITY before he decided to walk around the building.

Anyway, crisis resolved, we went back to waiting. Fianlly, to relieve our boredom I think, they called us back to an exam room, just for kicks. There we waited some more, with my natives growing more and more restless (and hungry and thirsty) by the second. Just for consistency's sake they decided which chair was the Good Spot, started calling it, then fighting over it.

At long last they started an examination and began sending James off for x-rays and CT scans. It all took a while, but at least things were finally getting accomplished. More than six hours from when we walked in, we walked out of the ER. James had a large head laceration with 15 staples holding it together, and a Retaliation Fracture of the 3rd metacarpal of his right hand. His head was bandeaged up like a mummy and he was sporting a splint and sling on his arm.
I drove the kids to the McDonald's drive-thru for burgers (they were open -- there is a God in Heaven) and then finally home.

It was just before midnight.

After I put the kids to bed I promptly went into the game room and unplugged the X-Box and set it by the steps to take up later and secure away under lock and key. When Patrick saw it this morning, he asked why it was out there. I replied, in a simple and understated way, "Because of last night".


This time, I was speechless for more than a heartbeat.


  1. I always do the scroll on the down on the right to see who is who. WOW what a story. Did you leave out the parts where you went and screamed somewhere. Your patience throughout this was amazing and that you help it together without having the law coming after YOU! What did you do after the house was quiet? ~TALU

  2. And yet we love them, full heart and soul. Amazing, isn't it? LOL!!!

    I'm glad all was well that ended well, but sorry you (and James!) had to go through it.


  3. I had two teenage boys once before they grew up on me. We had similar incidents around our house. Testosterone can be hard to deal with. My boys are on their 30's and have shared a house since college.i loved your telling of the story. I decided to follow you on GFC. I found you throw a reshape from Mail4Risey.

  4. WOW!! OK, so how long did you hold out before the X-Box re-appeared?? ;)

  5. Wow, glad it all turned out OK. The BUT Whyyyy sounds just like my house, lol.

  6. I grew up in a family of four kids and we label our scars by the perpetrator (i.e. this lip scar is Jack's fault). Your family will have much more interesting stories than mine.

  7. Thanks, guys! Jeannine, I was laughing at your "scar labelling"!

    I swear these kids will be the death of me.




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