The Hard Way

As soon as Jude took off his outside gear upon arriving home from school, he sidled into the living room with an impish grin on his freckled face.

"Mom, did you ever get your tongue stuck to metal in the playground?"

At -23C today, my imagination started filling with horrific images of the poor child who had to wait for the teachers to bring some hot water to melt their tongue off the swing set to release them, albeit a few taste buds short, from frozen captivity, induced by their own curiosity or stupidity. Noah had gone through that experience in kindergarten (as Jude would remind me of a few minutes later in this conversation.)

"No, I don't think so," I said, racking my brain. I had seen it happen a couple of times during my elementary-school years, once to a boy I often played with, but had not experienced it myself. "I was always smart enough to learn from the experience of others, and those who told me that doing that was a bad idea. Did it happen to someone at school today?"

"Yeah, this kid got his tongue stuck today."

"Oh, no!" I exclaimed. "Did it take long to get him unstuck?"

In a tumbled heap, Jude came clean. "Well, the kid was actually me. I got my tongue stuck while I was climbing. It was an accident."

My hand flew to cover my mouth, but my lips were trying to decide between a horrified gape and an outburst of raucous, but incredulous laughter. Somehow, they managed to combine the two.

"'This kid', eh? How on earth did you manage that?!"

"Well, I was climbing, and accidentally stuck out my tongue and it touched the pole, but it ripped off right away."

The sharp intake of breath I made was definitely tinged with horror, now, but my first-born was still smiling, so I figured it could not have been that dire. Amusement still tried to swamp the horror like a tidal wave, but mostly it just managed to make a mess of my facial expression. I calmed down after Jude showed me the tip of his tongue, which was missing a small strip of skin along one edge--it didn't look too serious, although I expressed sympathy about how it had felt eating his snack later that day with that bit of raw flesh in his mouth.

"Did you learn a lesson?"

"Yeah," he said, his grin sheepish now.

"This kid" sure manages to keep our lives interesting, that's for sure. :-)