Sunday, August 7, 2011


Sometimes you just think something seems like a bad idea. You just get a little feeling that whatever is happening is probably not going to work out for the best, and maybe you ought to stop and go with your instincts.

But then, you might think you're just being overprotective and worrying too much, and that everything will be fine, and besides if you just let it alone, you might get a moment of peace and quiet- a chance to relax while the young ones do their thing.

Actually, I might recommend plan A, because sometimes plan B backfires and your child ends up with a big bloody wound full of sand on their face, and that does not result in any peace and quiet, none at all.

Such was the case on a recent trip to the coast with my children's youth group. I am generally happy to be the spare adult / chaperone / driver etc on these deals because:
1) You get to go to fun places, and I love going to fun places, and
2) I enjoy kids and find them quite entertaining.

So, I am along on this adventure as the extra driver, happy as can be in my rental PT Cruiser full of dancing giggling kids (within the confines of their seat belts, of course) and trying to keep up with our convoy in Bay Area traffic. We camped and hiked in the redwoods and played on the beach everyday. I'm pretty sure that the redwoods and the ocean are two of the best things in the world for a person, and I was in the company of good people as well, so all in all it was a splendid trip.

Then, things went slightly amiss. We were on a beach in Capitola, gathering driftwood for our beach fire when we came across a lovely, and very hard wooden burl in the shape of a baseball. The males amongst us had the idea to fashion a bat by whacking another piece of driftwood into shape so they play a game. Being a non-male, this did not seem like the best idea to me at the time.

In fact, I distinctly remember thinking, "Oh, this ought to work out well...." in the usual sarcastic voice in my head. I could sort of picture the bat in process flying back in someone's face and giving them a painful lump, but I can tend to have a slightly dramatic imagination on occasion, and they seemed to have it under control. The bat was fashioned without incident or injury, so I didn't pay too much more attention to that feeling.

My Boy Child was running with the big kids, and the fire, a blanket and my book were just sitting there calling me towards a moment of solitude. I settled in cozily with the sounds of laughter, waves and gulls in the background. It was lovely.

My moment lasted about a minute and a half. Then, I heard the crack of the bat and the wooden ball colliding, a whoosh, a thud, a collective gasp and a muffled scream. My head whipped around to see my Boy Child face down in the sand with his hands over his mouth and large quantities of blood streaming from between his fingers. As I rushed towards him from behind, his sister came towards from the front. She saw his face before I did and looked up in horror gasping something about his teeth being missing.

It's funny how the mind works. I had a brief second of panic where my eyes literally felt like saucers, before something kicked in and my mind calmly decided that no matter what I would buy my boy new teeth if I needed too, no matter the cost. I would drive my old Volvo for another 5 years if I had to, because even in the little mountain town we call home, having your teeth is important after the age of 10 or so.

A few more steps and a deep breath, and I reached him. Thanks be to God, his teeth were still attached, albeit 3 permanent ones were loose. He had a small, but gaping wound on his upper lip which was filthy with beach grit and bleeding like crazy. Once we got the bleeding to stop, it looked like he might need stitches. It was also obvious that there was no way I was the best person to clean out that sandy gross wound. There are people who are good at doing that kind of thing without contorting their own faces into looks of shock and disgust, gagging and muttering prayers. I am not one of those people. Those people go to medical school and make lots of money sewing up people like us, and we needed to find one of those people.

Teenagers and their smart phones are handy to have when you need to find a doctor in a strange town after 6 pm. Twelve members of our party crowded the waiting room while I watched my boy's face be flushed out and stitched up. What a good group of kids to wait for their friend, hungry, sandy and wet without complaint.

The poor kid that had wielded the bat looked like he felt awful. I tried to convince him that we didn't blame him, but he still looked miserable. I think my jokes about him having a future in lip piercing or orthodontia baffled him more than comforted him, but the thing is, sometimes you have to either find a way to laugh about something or you'll start crying about it, and as a supposed adult in charge, I figured bad jokes were better than the hysterics. 

The stitches are out now, and the scar is pretty small. The loose teeth, thankfully firmed up, and are actually straighter than they were before, straighter than the ones on other side of his mouth too. If it had been more centered, perhaps we could have saved a ton on braces in a few years, although I don't really recommend filthy pieces of wood as a means of straightening teeth.

Of course it would have been nice if this little incident never happened, but since it did, I actually feel really lucky that it hit where it did. The whole thing could have been so very much worse. Lost teeth, broken nose, eye socket, concussion. Yikes. In gives me a horrible feeling in my stomach to think about it.

So, that's why I'm thinking that listening to that little voice is a good idea. When you feel a little skeptical, like something probably is not the best idea, you might just be right.