"Can I watch a movie, Mom?"
The question came from Jude, my oldest. He no longer naps, but he is the only one of my children who skips this daily ritual. (Too bad. Sometimes I wouldn't mind one, myself.) Often I will take this time to do a little "school" with him, or a short craft, and then let him watch a movie while I go get some office work done. So for him to ask this question was not so unreasonable.
However, I had already let him and Noah watch a full-length animated feature before lunch, and figured that another movie this afternoon was not all that necessary.
"No, I think we are going to make thank you cards for all the people who gave you birthday presents. Do you want to do some stamping?"
Jude loves to stamp. It was a no-brainer.
"Wait here, and I'll go get the stuff."
"Can I help, Mom?"
Duh. "Sure! C'mon down!"
So I descended into the basement, my tow-headed four-year-old trailing closely behind me.
My craft room used to share floor space with my husband's and my office. However, when I decided to start teaching this fall, we decided that the office would be put to better use combined with my music studio, so the craft stuff got moved to it's new home behind our wet bar downstairs. I actually love it down there. It's a little chillier, and a little less convenient--no more popping in and out of the room to work on a scrapbook layout ten minutes at a time--but I have WAY more storage, especially considering that the wall behind the bar is a mirror, fitted with glass shelves. There's a sink right there for cleaning up brushes, etc. And when I am finished, I pull a leg-less table turned edge-down across the opening so I do not get unwanted "helpers" in my workspace.
One of the items that does not fit in my new, compact craft area is the ironing board. It has now taken up permanent residence between my husband's benchpress and the wall. But for safety's sake, I always make sure and put the iron on my chair in my closed-off craft area when I am not down there using the chair myself. After all, the rest of the common area is my children's toy room!
I slid back the table and grabbed a couple of stamp sets for Jude to choose from. He picked my new set with the hearts, stars, and flowers--nice, large, filled-in stamps that leave satisfying saturated shapes of colour on the page. Good choice. Then I hunkered down to rummage through the inkpad drawer for the primary colours I had decided would be perfect for a card from a preschool boy.
The drawer is on the bottom of a tower of 7 plastic-drawers-on-wheels. Next to the tower, chumming it up, is my chair, the iron positioned in the center of its padded seat.
What happened next was like one of those slow-motion action scenes from an epic drama. It was like time slowed to a snail's pace, and my reaction time with it, but my brain sped up to have a full commentary on the play-by-play:
Okay, there's the red. Annd...the black for the "Thanks." Perfect. Now we'll just close this drawer, and I think I'll use the blue cardstock that matches the Brilliant Blue in--OOOOOWWWW! WHAT THE—?
The IRON fell on my foot! OOOWWW! Point down! On the big and second toes! Why did—?
Jude leaned on the chair. It was an accident. BUT IT HURTS SO MUCH! WHY DOES IT HURT SO MUCH?!!!!
And then I cried. A lot. And loudly. I don't normally cry from physical pain, but this is pain like I haven't experienced since I broke and dislocated my arm at the age of 9.
The intensity of my reaction totally freaked Jude out. "What happened, Mommy?!"
Through my sobs I managed to say that he knocked the iron onto my foot. I could see the remorse instantly strike his little heart. His face screwed up and he started crying, too.
"I'm sorry, Mommy, I'm sorry!"
Great. So now I have to somehow suppress the mind-numbing pain and soothe the fears of a well-meaning but careless boy. By now I had removed my sock and noticed that my big toenail was already blooming with blood under the nail behind my months-old chipped pedicure. Figuring that seeing that would only freak Jude out more, I gingerly replaced the sock, tested putting my foot into my slide, decided against it.
I managed to get a bit of a grip and called Jude to me. "It's okay, buddy, I know it was an accident. You just have to be more careful. I'm not angry with you."
This seemed to do little. Hoping that distance from the situation would help to calm him down, I sent him upstairs with the stamps and ink while I gathered the cardstock and followed behind, as quickly as my injury allowed.
Jabin had been drinking his bottle on the kitchen floor when we went downstairs, but was now wailing in displeasure because he still cannot sit up from a prostrate position. I sat him up, then collapsed down onto the floor beside him with an icepack on my toe, still barely holding it together.
Finally, I was able to get Jude to tell me why he couldn't calm down. He was actually frightened. "I scared that the iron fell on your foot."
It's hard to tell what was really frightening him--most likely, it was seeing me like this. There was probably a healthy dose of guilt in the role he played in the situation. Not wanting to let a teaching moment pass, I calmly explained that even when we don't mean to, we can hurt other people because we are not paying attention—that we always need to be aware of and pay attention to everything around us. (This was a lesson I remember my father oft repeating: "Be aware of your environment!")
After lots more reassuring hugs and words, plus reading a book together, Jude had calmed down enough to complete the card project.
And after a full night of teaching piano, my blood has pooled sufficiently in my toe that I am not sure I am going to be able to sleep. But, I guess I better go give it a shot. My toe may well be broken, or just very badly bruised, but I guess we'll see in time.
Someone has to be a responsible, cheerful adult around here tomorrow, and I guess I better make sure I qualify for the job.
I do not usually indulge in "what ifs" and regret--but right now, I wish I could zing a message back through time to myself at 2:00 today that says, "When Jude asks to watch a movie today, just say 'Yes.' Trust me on this one."