I happened to take a look at a friend’s Facebook page and see that she was right up the street at a National Night Out event — one that boasted a live band, a free cookout and a 20-foot inflatable water slide. Which sounded an awful lot more exciting than Busytown and Legos. I showed The Boy the picture and asked if he wanted to check it out. Did he ever!
Up the street at the event, folks appeared to be having a swell time. The band was in full swing, and everyone was extra neighborly. It was nice to be there. The water slide was tall. Really tall. I personally might not have chanced it, but The Boy was game. He was at the top before I could ask him if he was sure he wanted to try it.
I held my breath as I watched him come down. He looked tiny. There was a little curve in the middle of the slide where he went airborne for a few seconds. He splashed down hard at the end. But he loved it! Success! He headed back up the ladder for another go.
I stood at the foot of the slide, watching him ascend and descend, all the while fending off advances from earnest school board candidates. Apparently National Night Out is a field day if you’re running for something. Understandable. Eventually, the inevitable happened, and there was a hard landing. Also understandable — if you fling yourself willy-nilly down a 20-foot inflatable slide enough times, sooner or later you’re going to have an uncomfortable landing. I saw the scraped elbow before The Boy felt it.
“Come here, bud, let’s get your towel,” I said, wrapping him up more to shield his view than anything else.
“I don’t think I want to go down again,” he said meekly. His elbow was beginning to sting.
“How about we go home and see what the new kids are doing?” We had just met two new neighbors that morning, boys a little younger than him. It was a good enticement. He nodded, and I led him back to the car. I arranged him in his car seat and strapped him in. And somehow — I don’t know if he worked his arm free or if he saw a few dabs of red through the towel — but somehow he realized he was bleeding.
There was wailing. There was howling. There was gnashing of teeth and blame thrown my way. “Why did you take me there? How was that a good idea? You took me to a dangerous place,” the unspoken implication being that Daddy would have known better. “I’m hurt! I’m hurt! This is bad, this is very bad!”
“Buddy, it’s just a scrape,” I said in my most soothing Mama voice. “It isn’t a big deal.”
“It IS a big deal,” he wailed, “because I am just a little kid! And when a little kid is bleeding, that is a very big deal!” He then proceeded to moan silently to himself for the rest of the ride home, a sorrowful, guilt-inducing moan. For such a short distance, it was a really long ride.
Fortunately, when we arrived home, the new boys were not just out front, but out front with SIDEWALK CHALK. Scraped what? Blood where? The three of them played until it was too dark for chalking, and I was free from guilt until Tad got home — at which point they double-banked me with accusations of negligence and poor judgment. Which may well be true, but sometimes you have to take a risk to have some fun, and battle wounds make for really good stories.
At bedtime, The Boy took a little time to admire his nasty elbow in the bedroom mirror.
“This is the goriest I’ve ever been,” he said proudly. Then he puffed out his chest and flexed his little pipe-cleaner arms for effect. “Master Lorenzo did say I’m a warrior.”
A mighty, mighty warrior. Who only shrieks a little when he sees blood on his car seat.