Monday, June 27, 2011

That Hurt Something Fowl

I grew up in a great time.  My childhood fell during that great period of the 1980s - 1990s, when technology had advanced enough that I got to experience computer and video games, heat sensitive t-shirts and was able to cool off in the air conditioning during the hot summer months.  (As an aside, was I the only one whose father had A/C but was never willing to switch in on?  I remember the house being dark as night with the drapes closed in an effort to preserve what cool air we'd trapped inside.  If we had the AC, why wasn't it on?  Maybe we grew up in the dark ages after all!)  But along with the benefits of technology, my little Iowa neighborhood was safe and innocent enough that by day my friends and I were off exploring in the woods, riding bikes through puddles and relishing in the independence all kids need and want.

But we're not in 1990 anymore, Toto.

Cael and Graham won't experience that childhood, or at least the same way I experienced it.  And while I'm saddened by that thought, I have to admit that a piece of me is a little relieved.  Because just as Cael had a hard time letting me go get a pedicure with a friend, I will have a difficult time letting him go with a friend to ride bikes through puddles.  Not because I don't like bike rides, but because I'm just that anal.

VanderVeer Park - Davenport, IA
So I'm trying to do my best to bring back some of those fun things that I remember from my childhood that I can introduce to my children, like playing in the sprinkler, capturing caterpillars in a jar and watching them dry up until they are shriveled and crispy like a Cheeto, or something as simple as feeding ducks at a park.  Feeding the ducks was one of my favorite things to do as a little girl in Davenport's Central Park-esque VanderVeer Park, where there were ducks, geese and a few beautiful swans.  So after a get-together with friends last Friday night during which we dined on a really healthy dinner and blew it with fried ice cream (the kind that would give even Paula Deen a blockage) we were left with the crust from two loaves of bread.  Let's go to the park.

As we drove down the highway headed for Noelridge Park, I though to myself what a nostalgic day this would be.  Fun, free family time with all of my boys.  I beamed, thinking that they'd enjoy it so much that there would be no behavioral problems, no bad manners and certainly no obstacles to overcome.

But those poor ducks never saw us coming.  We bounded out of the van like a herd of buffalo-- two big bags of bread in hand that would become ammunition to pelt unsuspecting ducks in the head, neck and back.  Anything above water, really.  As we reached the water's edge, Cael wasted no time capturing the ducks' attention.  His strategy was two-fold: first begin by yelling, "HEY DUCK!!!" in a voice that, if not for the innocent words, you would have thought was hollered out by a drunken sailor.  Once the duck, stunned by his aggressive calls, would stop swimming, he was riddled with a spray of bread chunks.  Not one, two or three, but an entire handful of crust strips squeezed tightly into a ball.  I'd given him a pile to work from, but had mistakenly placed them in his left hand out of force of habit.  Being a lefty, he was unable to manipulate his right hand well enough to transfer them or pick them out one by one, so he assessed the situation and decided that his best option was to hurl the lump of bread at a group of three baby ducks and a Mommy duck.  I breathed a sigh of relief when he missed, and made a mental note to continue to put the bread in his left hand.  I certainly don't need any lawsuits this summer.  Little did I know my imaginary case of "the City of Cedar Rapids vs. Mary Foreman" would fade to thoughts of "Mary Foreman vs. Walmart" in just a few short hours.

Our park excursion was brief, but the boys did enjoy it.  Graham filled his time by eating a large majority of the bread crusts, while Cael continued to inform us how good this bread was for the ducks "Because it's weet bread, Mommy!"  He shared this information with the Mommy duck, too.  She saw him coming and decided that she'd rather eat the green gunk under water than partake of my son's bread strips.  Good call, Mrs. Duck.  Out of bread and with sprinkles starting to fall, we packed it up and piled back into our van.

Realizing that my plans hadn't played out as I'd wanted, something needed to be done to salvage the day.  We swung by Walmart so that I could pick up a couple of extra grocery items.  I knew that Papa and T. would be coming for supper, so I thought it would be a nice touch to roast some garlic or go out of the way to do something special.  Joel took Cael to the other side of the store and into another zip code as Graham and I perused the produce.


Ouch!!!  What WAS that?  I felt a piercing pain in my foot and realized I'd stubbed my pinky toe against the wheel of my cart, and badly at that.  A few steps into another aisle I made the discovery that I was leaving a trail of blood behind me.  That can't be good.  I grabbed my cell to call Joel, and in an effort to keep blood off of my new Nike sandals, I put that foot against my other leg.  Three phone calls later, and still nothing.

Wives, do you play the cell phone dance with your husbands?  You know, where he tries to call you and you (for whatever reason) don't answer, and you then have to sit through the "You never answer your cell phone!" conversation?  The irony behind this dance is that, inevitably, the next day you attempt to call him and he does not answer his phone.  I mentally drew a tally aside Joel's name and tucked my phone back in my purse just as it began ringing.

"What's wrong?"

"I think I broke my toe.  Bring paper towels, I'm bleeding everywhere!"

"Fantastic.  See you in a minute."

Joel and Cael arrived just in time.  I felt like a sideshow act.  "Step right up to see the AMAZING 9-toed, bleeding, balancing woman!!"  I peeled my foot off of my leg to find that my toenail had come off.  I'll give you a moment to process that.  Got it?  My toenail was bent back and flush with the lower part of my toe.  Not wanting to rip it off and cause any further trauma, I gave it a stern look, threatened a lot of time-outs if it didn't re-adhere and pressed it back in place.  Here's hoping.

We flagged down a young employee to fetch some band-aids and he, clearly loving his job, meandered off to retrieve them, stopping here and there to straighten a shelf or pick up a can off the floor.  Rather than getting help, however, we'd simply attracted attention to ourselves.  A very officious woman came over and tried to gather the details of what had happened.

"I hit my toe on the cart."

"How did you do that?"

"Well, you see... I thought that this nostalgic day with my children just wasn't complete.  So, I mustered up all of my strength and kicked the wheel of my cart as hard as possible.  I made very certain to aim carefully and only hit my pinky toe, as it is the smallest and would cause the least amount of pain.  I think I was successful-- Go me!" 

Broken toe - Day 2
Okay, so I didn't really say that.  But how do you ever explain a stubbed toe?  I just told her, "I don't really know how I did it, but I'm pretty sure I broke it", knowing from past experience that it takes very little to break that particular toe.  As soon as the word "broke" left my mouth, she went into legal mode, calling over a manager to inform them that I thought I'd been injured on their store-owned cart.  I assured them I had no intention of suing them OR their cart (that jerk) but they wouldn't leave my side until I'd given them my name, number and had recorded the details of the incident.  Only after they'd documented the event did my bandaids arrive from my employee in shining armor.  Or blue polo shirt.

At the end of the night, I kicked myself for thinking that I have to recreate my own childhood in order to make my kids' experience special.  They're smart and tough boys, and they will adjust to whatever reality becomes their own.  Whether that be a more technological world, one with less independence but more opportunities or even one with no toenails.

They'll be just fine.


  1. Ouch is right! It looks so much better now- you wouldn't even know it happened!


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.