I had the day off Friday because my two boys didn’t have school. It promised to be a sunny, lazy, seemingly perfect day and I’m not going to lie…I debated about taking their little sister, my 3-year old, to day care.
Any mom of more than one child knows this feeling. As kids get older and more independent, you realize how much less stressful it is to hang out with them. My 10- and 8-year old boys don’t need me to pack them cereal and juice. They can actually go poop on command before we leave the house. They can buckle their own seat belts.
My conscience got the best of me and I decided to keep Jaycee home too. We all headed out to one of our favorite hangouts, Fontenelle Forest.
This area of Fontenelle Forest is known as the "Boardwalk." Fontenelle Nature Association owns and manages 2,000 acres of conservation land and 26 miles of marked trails within Fontenelle Forest Nature Center in Bellevue and Neale Woods in Omaha. Photo courtesy of fontenelleforest.org.
Our tradition at Fontenelle Forest is to hike a stretch of trails that span a few miles, eating a picnic lunch at the halfway point on the banks of the Missouri River before returning back to the place from which we started. We began our hike with the sun shining on our faces, the birds chirping, and the children laughing. My daughter, Jaycee, was running out in front of us with the wind lifting her little curls. That lasted for about 5 minutes.
Then, laughter turned to screaming. And Jaycee came running to me holding her mouth.
I’m going to pause right now to give you the choice to stop reading. If you are eating, take my advice and come back to this post another time. If you are squeamish (I swear there are not buckets of blood shooting out of her mouth or anything), maybe just call it a day and close your browser. For the rest of you, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I bend down and take my little girl’s face into my hands and tell her to show me where it hurts. She opens her mouth and all I see is a flap of her gum that is normally attached above her upper tooth looking back at me and taunting, “Now what, mom? Didn’t expect to see ME here, did ya?”
Puke. Puke. Puke. Puke. Puke. Puke.
I do my best not to dry heave in front of her. I take my finger and try to wiggle her front two teeth. Not a budge. She somehow fell sideways into something (what it was, I still don’t know) and that something sliced her gum but did no other visible damage.
The bleeding stops. The hysteria ceases. Her brother pleads with me to not cut the trip short. He reminds me how badly he wants to eat his picnic lunch. I remind him that if he had incurred the same injury, he likely would have needed to be swooped up by life flight and transported to the nearest hospital (he’s a tad bit dramatic when hurt).
I made the following split second decisions: Carry on with the hike and picnic as planned. Take Jaycee to the dentist immediately following our return to van. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT call dad.
We got through the first two steps and then I received the dreaded call en route to the dentist’s office. Ryan casually asks me how the day is going. I casually explain to him how I am the ringmaster of this circus we call life and that his daughter gave me a day to remember by face planting on the Boardwalk at Fontenelle Forest.
I will explain the rest of the conversation in pictures.
Ryan: What do you mean she cut her gums? Is she alright? Are her teeth ok? Will there be any long-term damage. IS SHE OK?!
Me: Well, she's pretty shaken up. We're in the waiting room and I'm doing my best to keep her calm.
Ryan: Are you serious? Let me talk to her. Should I come home?
No, I'm totally teasing you. She LOVES the dentist. This is by far her favorite part of our make-shift field trip today.
Ryan: What did the dentist say? Are her teeth going to be ok?
Me: The dentist confirmed everything you already know. Her teeth are fine. She's super cute.
Ryan: What are they going to do with her gums? Will it hurt her?
Me: Hold a sec. They are prepping her for major surgery.
Ryan: Are you SERIOUS? Let me talk to her.
Me: Good news. Surgery went well. Oh, and by "surgery," I meant she got to put on sassy sunglasses and hang out with her new best friend, the dentist who was open on Friday afternoon.
Ryan: How did this even happen? What were you doing when she fell?
Me: Have you MET your daughter? It's like there's a magnetic force field between her head and the earth. They are bound and determined to meet at least once a month. I was walking alongside your two other kids before it happened...thinking to myself, 'Why did I even consider leaving Jaycee at day care today?'
Ryan: OK, let me know how the x-ray turns out. Tell her I love her.
She loves you too. She will be excited to see you. Wait until you see the picture I took and was purposely not sending you before we got everything fixed. You would have FREAKED OUT.
Moral of the story: The day would have been perfect had I kept Jaycee in day care. But she makes life far more interesting so I am glad she played hooky.