Ah, the blessings and excitement that accompany our family outings.
It is karate lesson night for my son, Chaz. He is approximately five years old, which puts my daughter, Cassie, a few months over the age of two years, and my youngest child, Ericka, is still hanging out in my womb; waiting for her moment to explode out of me, and into our fragile world of existence.
The evening is a delightful autumn one. The weather is warm enough to produce heat, yet still retains the cooling breezes of the current season. As Chaz is pounding out his moves in class, Cassie decides to create her own kata of disruption, and soon she and I are sitting outside of the building, on a wrought iron railing stairway, waiting for the class to end. I am holding Cassie on my lap, which isn’t the most comfortable position, since the baby in my belly already takes up most of it.
Cassie is bored and I am absentmindedly distracted. As we sit together on the steps, I lean my head against the railing and try to relax. So many things to think about when you are a young wife and mother… what to make for dinner, where to find enough money to cover this month’s bills, how to resolve all of the latest tensions between my husband and myself. So much to do, so many challenges to overcome. My head feels heavy from all of my worries, and the iron railing feels solid and cooling; not anything like our current home life.
While my attention is locked away in my prison of thoughts and concerns, unbeknownst to me, although I can’t say why since she was sitting on top of me; Cassie has begun to mimic my actions, and has also leaned her tightly curled blonde head against the railing. I sigh and pick up my head from the railing and then place it back again, seeking a more comfortable position. Cassie also sighs and places her head, now face first against the railing. She pulls her head back and pushes it forward, pulls it back and pushes it forward, repeatedly, with each of her little movements gaining more and more pressure.
Now here is an interesting fact, and one that had completely slipped my mind at the time; when infants are born, they have this remarkable syndrome known as “fontanel” in their skulls. This little infant specialty is what allows those enormous heads to pass through the vaginal cavity of their tortured mothers. There is a little gap, and a softness to their bones, which permits the top layers of the skull to overlap and condense, and therefore create a smaller head to aid in the exit out of the womb and entrance into our world. This miraculous phenomenon that hastens their voyage through the birth process never fully goes away until around the age of two. As if that wasn’t enough of a mind blowing medical curiosity, another condition to consider is that when children begin their lives, their bones are very pliable and soft. This can create a certain “Gumby” effect in their skeletal structures. When children are quite small, their shapes and forms are surprisingly capable of certain adaptations. The complete ossification of our human skeletal structures takes place only gradually as we grow and mature.
What does all that useless information have in connection with this story, you ask? Well, not insignificantly, it can mean that an inquisitive two-year-old, with her face pushed forcibly against a set of wrought iron railing, can begin with her head and body of one side of the rails, and through persistence and bizarre dedication, end the scenario with her torso and limbs on one side of the railing, while her head has magically erupted onto the other side of the railing. But I am getting ahead of myself here, let us go back to the moment at hand….
My eyes are closed and I am relaxing, breathing deeply; trying to push all of the worries out of my brain, and pull back into my mind some peace and logic. Breathe in, breathe out. Push thoughts out, pull peace in. Pushing, pulling, pushing, pulling, pushing, pushing…. “POP”!
I heard an unfamiliar noise, and turned my head, with eyes wide open just in time to see my beautiful two-year-old daughter in a crazed, confined position. While her head was lodged on the outside of the railing, her diminutive body flailed like a frantic octopus on the inside of the railing.
I know this is a stupid question before it even escapes my lips, but I have to say it, “Cass -what are you doing?”
“My tuck!” She quips.
“You’re stuck? What do you mean you’re stuck?” I question.
“My TUCK, Mommy – my weally tuck!”
“Good golly, girl! How on earth did you get your head through those three inch rails?!?”
At this point, Cassie began to cry, and I began to contemplate joining her. All of the thoughts that now flashed through my mind consisted of sirens, fire engines, police officers, the local television news team, and any fallout that would come from my husband when he saw us on the eleven o’clock news that night. How in the world was I going to get us out of this one?!?
“Oh gosh – holy crap – you really are stuck!” I was working her head around, trying to remember if I had any cooking grease or WD-40 in the back of my car.
“Auugghh, Mommy! That hurts!”
“I know this is painful dear, but be a brave girl and let mommy work – ok? Oh crap, crap, crap… your dad is going to kill us!”
After a few minutes of vain tactics, it became obvious to me that she wouldn’t get released unless I forced the issue, and I realized this was going to be anything but pretty. With a deep breath, and a “Bear with me sweetheart, I think I’ve got this”, I tucked her head down towards her chin, and with the vigorous tilt of her jaw and a strong armed pull, I basically birthed her head back through the bars and onto our side of the world again. It wasn’t my most nurturing parental moment, and I’m pretty sure that in a court of domestic law, it might not have been legal either; but with one strong, calculated yank, I got all of her back onto my lap again.
Her hands immediately flew to the sides of her head.
“OWW! MY EARS!!!”
Oh, yeah, I had forgotten all about those floppy appendages, and in my haste to avoid national news coverage, I had managed to scrape the top layers of skin off of the backs of both of her ears. Just as the karate class was ending, I scooped her up in my arms and scurried down the stairs, as people began exiting the building. With a screaming two-year-old in my arms, and a completely confused five-year-old at my side, I made a dash for the car before any cameras could start rolling.
The brush burns and bleeding on the back of her ears would ensure that there would be no way to hide any of this fiasco from my husband, but at least he wouldn’t be hearing about it from the television news anchor that night.