Friday, February 4, 2011


Well, Rollie almost made it to his fourth birthday before his first trip to the ER.

I guess it was likely to happen at some point. Kids hurt themselves all the time. Jumping off of moving swings, double-bouncing on trampolines, bicycle crashes, unfortunate Wet Banana mishaps. I'm kind of surprised the nation's ER's aren't clogged with kids who have just tried a neat trick with a homemade catapult involving a tree branch and their little sister.

Or who, like Rollie, stood up in a bathtub despite their mother's constant chirpings that doing so will result in them slipping and splitting their chins open like so many lobster tails. Mommy is always right.

Every guy I think I've ever known has a scar on his chin. What is up with that? Guys are always smacking themselves on the chin. Every grown man I know is unable to grow facial hair on a small line on their chin due to a childhood scar. Why is the male species so careless with such an important part of its face? The chin is always described in romance novels--one of the first things you hear about is a man's chiseled chin or a cleft in his chin or a chin that could cut through the strings of the bodice that could scarcely contain her heaving bosom. Yet men everywhere are engaged in such chin-desecrating practices as diving face-first into coffee tables, standing too close to friends wielding baseball bats, or trying to break up two people fighting over the last can of vienna sausages at the local Piggly Wiggly.

Luckily Jeff stepped through the bathroom door just as I sat there, holding a washcloth to Rollie's chin, wondering how I was going to get it together enough to assess the damage, dress everyone and bundle them off to the nearest hospital. Jeff stayed home with Elsa and Rollie and I piled into the car to make the journey northward. Rollie requested he bring a few items to keep him company, and of course I would have allowed he bring pretty much anything his little heart desired, even if that meant dragging in the life-sized cardboard cut-out of Donald Sutherland we keep hidden beneath our bed to ward off vampires. 

Instead, I buckled Rollie into the car with a cup of chocolate milk, a plastic pirate hook, a plastic sword, a Lightning McQueen car, and Jeff's iPad. And we were off.

Emergency Rooms are scary places. And this is coming from a thirty-something-year-old woman. I can't imagine how scary it must have been to poor Rollie, huddled behind me at the checkout counter, giant band-aide affixed to his chin as people shuffled by in hospital masks and bags under their eyes, or lay down across the wooden chairs, in various stages of consciousness and pain. It made me incredibly grateful that this was not a place I've ever had to go with my children. 

While I signed us in, a woman sat not ten feet away from us in a wheelchair, apparently going into full-on, stage-five labor. Her shrieks echoed off the disinfected tile, sending Rollie into a leg-clinging, eye-watering panic I haven't seen since his first day of preschool. I tried to reassure him that the lady would be okay as I desperately tried to remember his social security number. (I felt like telling the lady that labor was the easy's the next twenty years of her life that will make her want to scream like that).

I led Rollie over to a nice, relatively non-upsetting corner of the waiting room, where we spent the next 45 minutes eating Rasinettes and racing each other in our marble maze app--Rollie on my phone and I on the iPad (side note: he kicked my butt. I'm starting to worry that ten years from now I'm gonna be one of those parents who begs her children to show her what this crazy, newfangled internet is all about).

Then the nurse called Rollie back to check his vitals. It brought on some comic relief, since the male nurse sounded straight of the set of Fargo:

Nurse: How ya doin', little buddy?
Rollie: .....
Me: Rollie, say hi.
Rollie: hi.
Nurse: Well, let's have a look atcha, alrighty?
Rollie: .....
Me: It's okay, Rol-Rol. He's here to help you.
Nurse: We'll getcha all fixed up real good now. Okey doke?
Rollie: ....Ok....
Nurse: And then we'll have ya outta here real quick. Alrighty? Whatcha do to yer chin there?
Me: He slipped in the tub.
Nurse: Ouch. Bet that didn't feel real good now, did it?
Rollie shakes his head.  And I wonder if this cheesehead is super-duper excited that them there Packers are goin' to the Superbowl, dontcha know?
Nurse: Alrighty now, let's getcha back here so they can fix up that chin-a yer's, okey doke?

Rollie's new bad-ass chin
We were whisked away to a quiet corner of the wing, where another nurse taped Rollie's chin back together and bandaged it up. I bribed him with promises of Icees and milkshakes if he held still long enough for the nurse to see what she was doing. All your friends will be super impressed with your chin, I told him as I held his hand and wiped the tears from his face. You'll be a celebrity at school. Elsa will be so jealous with all the attention you'll get. Because isn't that the best part about getting hurt like that? The attention, sympathy and celebrity status that comes after a childhood injury? That's how I managed to get attention in my family--constantly needing stitches (okay, so twice....two of the best days of my life. My family nickname is still Buttscar, after a rather unfortunate sledding accident. Kids, don't ever try to slide down a snow-covered hill that was littered with sharp rusty objects just that autumn--the rusty objects are still there).

Rollie did pretty well, all things considered. He was racing Lightning McQueen up and down the hospital bed by the time I paid my bill and we were discharged.

On the drive home, we could see the winking lights of the hospital from the interstate. And the following conversation ensued:

Rollie: That looks like a bunch of ice cubes.
Me: Yeah, it kinda does at night, doesn't it?
Rollie: Why is the hospital so big?
Me: Because all kinds of people have to go there...people having babies...people who hurt themselves like you did...people who are sick...people who go to work there.
Rollie: People who run out of toys.
Me: I don't think running out of toys means you have to go to the hospital.
Rollie: It means you have to go to Target.
Me: ...Yeah, I guess that's one place you can go.

After a few minutes I think he's asleep, but then he pipes back up:

Rollie: When I can drive, I want a big black van.
Me: You thinking of joining the Secret Service?
Rollie: I want a van like Auntie Amy's.
Me: Oh yeah? A minivan? What would you want inside, a tv?
Rollie: I'd want a little tiny mouse. And a little tiny bed and a little tiny blanket.
Me: That sounds comfy. Would you drive the mouse around?
Rollie: Yes I would.
Me: Where would you take the mouse?
Rollie: Wherever it wanted to go. It would just tell me where it wanted to go and I would take it there.
Me: Like Target?
Rollie: Yes, and I would buy him whatever he wanted.
Me: You'll have to make sure you have a job so you can make enough money to buy it whatever it wanted.
Rollie: ...Well, I would buy it an Icee. And maybe one toy.
Me: That sounds good.

After a few minutes, I checked in the rearview mirror and saw the sillohuette of his head bent to one side and faintly heard the soft, rhythmic sound of him breathing. I hoped he was dreaming of chauffeuring his hypothetical mouse to Target, where they could share an Icee and browse the toy aisle to their hearts' content.


  1. That was a great story. Funny and poignant. Funny and pregnant.

  2. Funny funny FUNNY. I think Morris has one of those chin scars too. Or the bodice-ripping kind. One of the two.

  3. I did the same thing to my chin in the bath when I was a kid. My mom duct taped a maxi pad to my chin and off to the ER we went. LOL

  4. @ Celia-- That would have worked beautifully. All I had were tampons, which may have garnered some funny looks in the ER. I'll have to remember her trick for next I'm sure there will be a next time. Thanks for the comment!