A Super Pole Story
My Husband SWORE She Would Never "End Up On a Pole"
No matter how brilliant and talented your child is, no matter how proud you are of them, and no matter how choked-up you get when you repeatedly realize just how amazing they are, it is going to happen. And you will not see it coming, it’s almost as if they just make sure of that. They’re going to do something so utterly stupid, that you’ll think your life must be an old, slapstick-style sitcom. Just a few short days ago, my middle child, the only girl of three, and who is about to turn 8, threw me one of those curve balls. And it was truly (to utilize an entirely overused phrase) epic.
Let me preface this by saying that I thought exposing my children to the classics was important. One such classic that my daughter has had the privilege of seeing not only in motion picture form, but also via stage performance is “A Christmas Story”. Her great uncle, who she adores even played the part of the narrator, so I KNOW that she was paying attention! Surely, if nothing else is learned from this particular tale, it’s that: 1.) A pink bunny onesie is always hilarious, and 2.) You do NOT lick a metal pole in the winter (well, preferably never, but I digress).
So, my children and I end up stranded at home for this year’s Super Bowl due to snow. Naturally, my eight year old wanted to go outside and play in it. I got her all bundled-up in snow pants, coat, hat, gloves, boots, etc., full-well knowing that she’d probably only spend about half of the time out there playing that it just took me to get her ready to go out.
I’m standing at the window in the kitchen, washing a few dishes, reheating chili on the stove, and watching her and the dog play, not a care in the world and just having a swell old time. I step away for maybe 30 seconds, and as I enter the kitchen I can hear a child screaming. Not an uncommon occurrence in our household, I pause and evaluate. Is it my four year old? No, he’s upstairs with the thirteen year old playing a game. Well, surely it can’t be the eight year old. Even if she had fallen or some other nonsense, there’s so much fluffy, powdery snow out there, and she’s so heavily-padded herself, that there is no way she is actually injured!!
I run to the window and look outside. Her back is to me, her little arms alternating between waving frantically off to either side and pushing against the light pole in front of her. Her screaming becomes hysterical in nature. She is obviously panicking. But why doesn’t she turn around, or come inside for comfort for whatever just happened? Why indeed.
I think to myself, “No way. No, come on, how on Earth could she? Impossible!” Of course, realizing how well I actually know my own daughter, my train of thought immediately shifts direction to, “Of COURSE she did! Dammit, what the hell do I do now??”
..."I was like an animal stuck in a bear trap, and ready to gnaw my own leg off in order to have ten seconds to myself"...
I pull on my slipper boots, run some really warm water into a plastic cup and charge outside. I dump the water over her tongue, warning her that it could be hot, and for a split second, it appears that nothing happened! Now I’m panicking, too! Suddenly, though, thank goodness, she pulls her head all the way back to reveal a swollen, bloody, bright red tongue. Her glasses were completely fogged-over, tears running down her face, and I had to guide her back into the house. Even the dog looked ashamed, and let me tell you, he is no scholar.
Come to find out later that evening, that the neighbor girl across the street had text messaged my oldest son right after all of this happened. She heard my little girl screaming and wanted to make sure she was alright. My son, in true teenage fashion, simply texted back that she was probably just throwing a tantrum and to try to ignore her.
Naturally, once the adrenaline, disbelief and sheer rage subsided, I had to share the incident with anyone who would listen. Hence, this story. This of course included a call to my mother, who was also amused. She would pass along the story to my dad.
The next day, the snow continued to make travel risky, but by then I was like an animal stuck in a bear trap, and ready to gnaw my own leg off in order to have ten seconds to myself. I ventured out on slick roads and headed to the grocery store. I had a hankering for some salt and vinegar chicken wings, and this particular store was the only place to get them. Luckily, it wasn’t too terribly far, and as it happens, it is also very close to my parents’ house, where they had also been snowed-in since the previous day. I thought I would be nice, and called to offer to bring them some wings as well on my way home to the bear trap - er, home. They gladly accepted. Just hang in there with me, I’m circling a secondary story line here.
Then we have Grandpa's story:
About a half an hour later, I arrive at their house and hand over the wings. Eager to eat my own which I had left in the car, but also desperate for even a second of adult conversation, I sit and chat with my folks for a few minutes before leaving. As I hugged each of them goodbye, my father told me something that I will forever cherish. He told me that he had a message for my daughter, if I didn’t mind passing it along, and that he didn’t want her to feel embarrassed or ashamed of what she had done the day before, because sometimes smart people do dumb things. And he is visibly uncomfortable, as if he’s about to tell me where the Lindbergh baby was or something.
He starts by telling me that he had never even told my mother this, which, you’d have to know my parents to appreciate the true gravity of that statement, and now my mom looked about as perplexed as I imagine I did. “When I was about her age, I did the same thing. Not a pole, but one of those metal sleds. . .”
He went on to describe the incident in more detail. My mother and I were laughing as his face reddened, he would not make eye contact, and was trying to chuckle at himself as well. I could tell that this was not an easy thing for him to come out with, that he’d essentially spent the majority of his life in the proverbial frozen tongue closet, but wow! I could not WAIT to tell my daughter, as I knew it would help to ease her lingering embarrassment as well. What a wonderful thing for him to do.
Of course, now I’ve gone and outed them both to the world, but it’s not as though they didn’t both know it was coming, right? I mean, come on! Who does that?!