Thursday, November 10, 2016

Fall, Part Five

Last weekend, we had the most perfect two days of fall. Until they weren't.

Sunday afternoon, Elise had a family shoot at Burke Lake Park. Elise usually goes to the shoots by herself, but this was one twenty minute mini-session. It was a beautiful fall day. Sunny, blue skies, so we decided to join her and play at the playground while she worked. Afterwards, we might ride the carousel or toy train, then stop at Open Road on the way home for burgers, beers, and football on the big screens.

We dropped Elise off at the boat ramp to meet her clients while I strolled across the frisbee golf course, autumn leaves falling around us, with the kids. When we got to the playground the kids sprinted for the jungle gym and I found a spot on a bench in the sun. My legs were wobbly from a long run early that morning, and I might have even thought about closing my eyes for a minute if I thought I could get away with it.

Not a minute later, Peter comes running toward me, screaming and clutching the side of his head. His hand is covered in blood. I pry his arm away from his head, but I have no idea what I am looking at. All I see is blood. I tell Sam and Clem to follow me, then guide Peter toward the men's room. He doesn't seem to be in too much pain, but as soon as he sees the blood on his hand he freaks out, "I don't wanna die!" he squeals, much to my horror.

It takes us a minute to find the bathroom. The whole time we're walking, all I can focus on is this giant orb of blood hanging off his ear, and me wishing for it not to fall and stain his sweatshirt before I can get it off him. It stays there, defying physics, unmoving. I can't believe it.

When we get to the bathroom, I take his sweatshirt off and ask Sam to hold it. He is pale and looks like he's about to pass out. In a few minutes, he will ask me if he and Clem can wait outside to which I will acquiesce. In the meantime, I look for something to sop up all the blood with, but there are no paper towels. Only toilet paper. So I wind toilet paper around my hand and carefully start dabbing at his ear, still not sure what I'm dealing with.

Pete's hair is long. The kids have very little control over anything in their lives. Most nights they don't have control what we have for dinner. They don't have control over their bedtimes or when they get to watch TV. We move frequently. We've moved no less than five times in the last six years and anticipate another move within the next year. And they have no control over where we move to. Even Elise or I have little control over that. But we do try to give them control over little things. Like their hair. We don't make them cut it, and let them decide when they need a haircut. It may be the only thing they do get to control these days.

I was cursing Pete's long hair and rethinking giving him control over this decision as I combed through his blond locks now matted with blood. I pulled back fistfuls of hair, trying to see a wound past the blood. I finally mopped up enough of the blood with soggy pink toilet paper (Peter hyperventilating the entire time) to see that he had a gash on the back of his ear. It didn't look bad, and I attributed all the blood to it being his ear and not the side of his head where I was initially looking.

Several men came into the bath room to pee and wash their hands. Two of them offered first aid kits out of their car. I thought we had our own so I declined, and once I got the bleeding to stop which mercifully it eventually did, I gave Peter a piggyback ride back to the car to wait for Elise to finish her shoot.

Pete would be fine. The kids rarely -- if ever -- get hurt. So when it does happen it is almost surreal. Even more so on such a beautiful day.

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