So after a full morning of whining, crepe-eating and walking around downtown, I decided to do something totally unexpected and rather than accept a gift on Mother's Day (none was being offered anyway), I'd give one. To my husband. The gift of time alone to work on his book I sent him off with his laptop and took the kids to the new playground near our place.
The playground has been closed for two years getting renovated and it just opened on Friday. You can imagine the excitement of the local kids. When we stopped by briefly after school of Friday the sky was so blue and the trees were so green and the whole place was so filled with the laughter of children and the sight of their hair blowing in the breeze as they wang on the wings and hung from the monkey bars - well it was like a commercial for childhood. So on Sunday, I told the kids they they could put on their bathing suits and we'd take the playground for a real test drive, sprinklers included.
The place was mobbed. I should have realized it was a safety hazard, having that many children running at top speed in such a tight space but I'm not crowd averse and figured the kids would elbow out some space for themselves. They did, and we had a long afternoon of romping around. Even Terza seemed happy to be at the playground - going and smiling contentedly in the stroller. But after one too many Olympic-style leaps for the high bar, Sec's able hands missed the bar and she landed flat on her back. It was the kind of injury that had parents coming over to make sure all was well. I, for one, thought we were going to have to head to the ER. I don't tend to freak out about playground falls but this was a high impact to the spine fall and it had me worried. Sec was crying so hard she couldn't breathe. Then, because I am so highly informed about medical practices, I decided I would see if she had truly sustain ed a final injury by having her bend over and touch her toes, which I now realize would have probably totally screwed her, had she really been hurt. But she was able to touch her toes and reach for the key and achieve all the other quack-job medical tests I had her take to make sure she was OK. And after a few minus on the bench and some Goldfish, she was back in the game. Crisis averted, I thought.
Primo, for his part, was having a freaking BALL of a time firing these super cool water canons they have in the sprinkler area. I mean, the kid spent a good forty minutes shooting that water cannon while Sec recuperated from her fall and then had me push her with all my might on the swings. WHen he tired of shooting the canon, Primo took a turn at being shot with the canon and was running through the sprinklers with wild abandon, laughing his face off, Such a picture of glee. Did a mom's heart good on Mother's Day.
David walked through the gates of the playground of Eden, rejuvenated from his alone time and in great spirits. Together we watched Primo and Seconda racing around the sprinklers and though it was late and we should have headed home already, we were loath to leave. THAT'S how much fun everyone was having. Until Primo had a head-on collision.
This is what will tend to happen in a crowded playground when one runs through the sprinklers at warp speed with one's eyes closed. The lower half of Primo's face intersected with the top half of another boy's face as they ran directly into each other, and the two boys recoiled, hitting the ground like a sack of potatoes. This didn't really alarm me, as children are known to bash heads without too many terrible repercussions. But then Primo clutched his mouth which was streaming with blood and he spit out a chunk of tooth.
Thankfully, he hadn't knocked his whole tooth out, just the top half of one. What freaked him out what the fact that the big chunk of tooth had fallen into his mouth and he'd thought it was food before realizing, "Shit, man.That's my freaking TOOTH."
Suffice it to say, mass hysteria ensued. Primo grabbed his mouth with both hands, screaming and wailing in terror and agony. It didn't help that he's scraped up his knee ad foot pretty bad and blood, heavily dilue with sprinkler water to make it look even worse - was coursing down his legs. The other boy, who'd gotten Primo's mouth right in his eye, was clutching his eye and screaming in agony. Seconda was standing there, frozen with terror, and crying harder then both of them put together. The kid is terrified of blood and looked as though she's witnessed an unspeakable atrocity. She may need counseling yet.
David swiftly jumped in and picked up the broken tooth chunk, which he mentioned to Primo in the hopes that it would cheer him. It did not.
"AHHHHHH! THAT"S MY TOOTH! MY GROWN UP TOOTH!!!!!"
With the whole playground watching on, we led our two hobbling, hysterical children and one very confused newborn out of the playground. It took a while, and a criminal amount of video game playing, before Primo calmed down. It helped when I told the kids they could skip after school the next day -- maybe even get picked up early from regular school -- to go to an emergency dental visit.
At that visit, our pediatric dentist assured me there was no nerve damage and slapped some crazy goo on there to cover the exposed inner tooth stuff and sent us on our way. Primo's bottom tooth-scape looks like a craggy mountain range now but I told him it builds character and the ladies would love to hear tell of his playground war story. He's already started to hone his anecdote and it begins like this, "It was a day like any other . . . "
Nicole is a parenting writer who contributes essays and articles for magazines like Parenting, Parents, American Baby and Babble. She lives in Brooklyn with three children, one husband and a morbidly obese goldfish.