Last night, I was out walking. The air was chilly and the full moon wasn’t easy to see, but the wind was very light and just a whisper as it drifted by.
Some people love the sun and the heat. Even when I was a skinny teen, I found the heat tiresome and I prefer a cold day to a hot day if I have to pick between the two. I am much more likely to walk in the evening on a cold evening than a hot one. The silly thing is I happily get all hot and sweaty on the elliptical and jump in the shower afterwards, but frown upon walking around the neighborhood on a humid D.C. evening.
Naturally, because I had gone walking for some quiet time, my phone rang. The kids. Of course they wanted something. Of course it couldn’t wait until I got back. After all, I’d been gone for a whole 30 minutes and clearly Something Needed To Be Done About That. I ignored the call. And the next one.
But we have a code in my family. Three or more calls in a row means it’s truly important, not just the usual teenage whining. On the third call, I’ll walk out of a meeting or cinema to find out what’s going on.
When the third call came in, I wondered what they might have got up in such a short time.
Charlotte was babbling, slightly hysterical. Amélie had…something or other, she said. Huh? Can I speak to Amélie? Unfortunately, Amélie was fully hysterical. Back to Charlotte. Amélie had fallen down the stairs, hurt her shoulder, broken her Macbook, and generally ruined her day.
As my walking route was a double loop and I was near home, I didn’t have to sprint anywhere because I happened to be close by. Within a few minutes I was home to see a very tearful and panicking Amélie at the bottom the stairs, all askew. Brigitte and Charlotte were with her, trying to calm her down. Why weren’t they all in bed? Well, there was no point pursuing that line of thinking at that time.
If you’ve played sports, had a serious car accident, fallen off a bicycle, or in some other way encountered trauma, you already know how life can turn in a few moments. As the accident or trauma happens, it’s rarely instant; there’s often enough time for the dreaded “uh-oh” (or something saltier) as the ground reaches up or the hard object heads in to make contact. When I fell down some stairs years ago, it seemed like 200 steps of bumping versus the 10 or so I actually hit.
The shock is a big factor. The delay in pain doesn’t help. Sometimes a sore back or shoulder doesn’t manifest itself until the next day or the day after.
And so it went with Amélie. She was shocked by her fall from the very top of the flight of stairs. She was a ‘hurting puppy’ as the local expression goes. She wasn’t going to die, but she hadn’t had something like this happen in long enough that the shock itself was very upsetting. She was very worried about her computer (she will need a new case for the laptop at the very least).
She has a very sore shoulder blade. I don’t think it’s broken but I suspect tomorrow the real pain will set in unless she’s careful about icing her shoulder and keeping up with Ibuprofen or similar for a few days. Alas, Amélie is rarely careful about anything and will probably learn another Life lesson the hard way.
So be it. I don’t like to see them get hurt and I hate seeing them in pain. But we all have to have the occasional wake-up call that the nagging lectures about “Don’t do this…” or “Always do it *that* way…” have a serious undertone even as they are relentless and seem monotonous.
I hope all of the girls learned something from this. “Always have a hand on the rail when going up or down the stairs” is one lesson I’ll probably not need to mention again for a long time. Unfortunately, I still have a lot of others to repeat back to them, ones they can nag their own kids with in the future.