Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Be Still My Heart

Between the fact that my car died and we can't take Lily to the pool, we've been house bound. It's been nice to have some slow lazy days (it would be better to have a car to go to the library with, though).

Lily is doing surprisingly well. She should be able to get her stitches out next week. Trying to keep her still has been a little difficult. She doesn't seem to be at all afraid of dogs, but is nervous about going to the bathroom by herself. She also doesn't want to look at her stitches or have anyone except Rob and I look at them. I really think that she would like to erase this memory from her "memory box."

I am glad that she seems to have no residual fears. I am not having such luck. I have always had and loved dogs, but I am finding it hard not to throw myself between any dog and my children. When I was walking last night, I passed a boxer who put his ears back and stared at me. For the first time I was nervous around a dog. My tongue went dry and my heart started racing. Maybe it's because I was the one who got Lily away from the dog. I was the one who came around the corner and saw the dog pulling on my baby's arm through the trash. I still don't know how I got the dog to let go. By the time everyone (it is nice to have a big family) got to us, I was holding her tight.

Once we got to the ER, I tried to calm myself down by thinking up jokes about "dumpster diving with a Beagle" and "smelling like I'd been on a bender," but this time jokes didn't help. Seeing my amazingly brave little girl did. I really believe that my girls are gifts, I'd have another child in a heart beat if we could afford it. They make me strong and they keep me centered. Even at their worst, they are perfection in my eyes (just don't tell them I said that, I'd never hear the end of it).

I knew we were lucky, but didn't realize how until I saw the bruises on her face and belly. It could have been so much worse., but my heart still broken when I saw the marks on my baby's perfect skin. I lay there that first night and just stared at her. Her little arm propped on a pillow and her bruised face. When she turned her head, it looked like nothing at all had happened.

Serious doesn't last long around here. By the time we headed home, we were telling jokes again. I told Lily my favorite about the tomato who steps on the one who falls behind and yells "Ketchup!" Lily loved it, after she stopped belly laughing, she said "I get it, the concept is we eat squished tomato, ketchup." Rob looked at me in wonder and said "She's fine, huh?" Yeah, she is.

Of course, now I am spending my days telling her to watch her stitches and coaxing her to take her medicine while she barrels through the house asking a million questions. She hasn't missed a beat. She really is pretty amazing.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Dog safety and bite prevention has been quite a topic around our house this year. It was a scout troops Bronze award and is something Caroline is quite well versed in. Part of the motivation was the fact that her cousin got bit pretty badly in the face three years ago by the family dog. It just happened. No one was at fault. Well, the same thing happened to us last night.

We are visiting the family in Illinois and last night Lily got bit by Rob's uncle's very old beagle. The dog had snuck into the house and was in the trash. Lily walked by, startled her , and got bit. Luckily, I was right behind her and got her before the dog got near her face or belly. She did get a nasty bite on her forearm. I really don't remember all of the details of what happened with the dog, I just know that I got her and screamed and Lily screamed. The entire family came running. Rob and I make a good team in an emergency. We stayed calm and got my first aid kit (don't ever tease me about always carrying it again) and wrapped her arm. The poor thing had wet her pants so I changed her and we took off for the ER. I feel bad that I forgot to say good bye to Caroline, but her aunt was there and took good care of her.

On the way, I started crying, but stopped the minute Lily started patting my cheek and telling me "It's ok Mama." This little girl never ceases to amaze me. Then she quietly told me that she had a memory box in her head and didn't want this memory in there. I told her she didn't have to keep it.

The Midwest is so different from Northern Virginia. We got in and out of the ER in 1 1/2 hour. That wait would have been at least 3 hours at home. They X rayed her arm, cleaned it out and gave her four stitches. Lily was amazing. She didn't cry and asked questions, like were do they learn to fix arms. The nurse has three children of his own and was so nice to her. He even called our prescription into the all night pharmacy for us.

I think that Lily will be fine, she didn't seem mad at the dog or overly scared. I feel really bad for Rob's aunt and uncle. They are the nicest people and I'm sure they're very upset. I also was worried for my niece. I thought this would bring back bad memories about her bite (which was so much worse), but she seems unfazed too.

I am so thankful that the dog only got her arm. It was so close to her face. I spent most of last night staring at the bruise on her temple and just being thankful.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

I am a straight arrow. As rule abiding and by the book as they come (even though half the time I'm trying to convince myself that I'm really a closet hippy). In our family there is a theory that kids come in twos. One straight arrow, one wild child. My father was the wild one, my uncle the by the book one; Rob's dad was the wild one, his uncle, by the book. Needless to say my brother was the wild one. I was looking at a picture of my brother and I from my college graduation. He had missed the ceremony and arrived late. The picture shows my brother, long haired, red eyed, and rumpled and me in my cap and gown chewing him out. That scene sums up the family to a tee. The straight arrow tows the lines, the wild child has fun. Our best stories are wild child driven. They are fun and lively and a constant source of worry. We straight arrows, when not full of righteous indignation are sticks in the mud, arriving safely at every destination with no tale to tell. Really, we need each other. It's a yin yang thing. By the way, my brother is now a steady as a rock. He's grown up.

Our family's wild children come with dangerous habits. Drinking too much, drugs, long wild nights, poor decision making, broken bones, hearts, and cars. I spent years dancing between self righteous worry and complete indifference (with hidden worry). I also envied the eases with which hey went through life. Never really as hurt as they could have been. They seemed charmed. Everywhere they went they made friends, had adventures, had a blast. I've ridden shotgun standing on the beach watching them crash through dangerous waves.

Our latest wild child is my 20 year old sister. Her life is her story to tell, so no details here. Her life is a continuing drama and she is the star. When she bursts into the house she leaves a wake behind her. It feels like a Bob Fosse number, we should all don sequins and snaps and twist behind her. Her ups and downs have been on going since she was 14. Before then she was my little buddy. She come stay with me every summer and we'd craft and adventure (tamely). Once she hit her teens, she wanted more and dropped out of my life. For the past 6 years we've seen her in fits and spurts. Her stories worry me more than entertain. Her stories frustrate me and I don't really want my children riding shotgun on these trips.

This last visit to CT, she was around more. She walked into the house and Lily looked at me and asked who's that? I explained she was my sister, her aunt. Lily's reply, you have a sister? They all had a nice time together (after getting reacquainted). We went to the beach and she took Caroline out kayaking. Of course, in true inattentive manner, she went out too far and for too long. My step mother got nervous and wanted to go look for them. I also started to get worried (I just saw Rachel Getting Married, watch and you'll know why). Of course, they came back happy and safe. Caroline looked a year older, proclaiming it was so cool, we found an island and explored it, we named it Bird Island! The rest of the day was just as nice, they made brownies and beaded bracelets, then watched movies. She was trying.

I am not stupid, I know this is probably a brief moment. Unreal expectations are dangerous and rarely fulfilled. I also know it starts with small amounts of trust. I look at my straight arrow oldest and my youngest. Will she be the next wild child? No need for pre-determination, just let it be.