One day last week or so, we got a bright and sunny day in the middle of what has been a long season of persistent gray and dreary. So, when I picked Sean up from school I suggested that instead of going home, we should stop off at the local nature trail and go exploring. And I could take pictures.
Yes, I had an ulterior motive. Or, as I like to think of it, I had a plan with something for everyone. I got to play with my camera and Sean got to pretend to be Bear Grylls. And unleash some of that explosion-sound-making-Ninja-karate-chopping-little-boy energy into the pseudo wilderness. Okay, that part was really for me too if you’re keeping score.
When we had gotten to the point furthest away from the car, he pointed to a log that had fallen across a shallow stream and asked if he could try to cross it. I estimated that the worst thing that could happen is that he would fall in and get wet. I told him he could give it a try if he wanted but that he should consider that if he fell in and got wet he would have to walk back to the car wearing wet clothes and shoes and that would not be very comfortable.
It was a risk he was willing to take, and frankly, I thought it was a good choice. A risk where the worst outcome is a little dirt or discomfort is a risk worth taking.
Aaaaand he fell in.
But he did not fuss or complain other than to say he was disappointed that we had to cut our adventure short. I helped him up the side of the muddy creek embankment and we headed back to the car to change clothes.
Sidebar: If you are a new mom, here’s a little tip for you: Always always keep a bag of clothes in your car with at least one change of clothes for your kiddo – pants, shirt, undies, socks and shoes, a light jacket or sweatshirt, wet wipes and a few plastic bags for the dirty clothes. The bag of extra clothes I keep in my car has been a lifesaver many times over. I usually keep clothes in the bag that we don’t mind parting with because on more than one occasion, we’ve had to outfit other children. Just remember to change out the clothes seasonally.
As we were approaching the parking lot, Sean turned to me and challenged me to race him to the car and he took off running. Not one to decline a challenge, I hugged my camera to my chest and trotted after him.
I watched him running ahead of me, coppery brown hair sparkling in the afternoon sunlight, his colt-like legs striding long and graceful. It made me feel happy. And I thought that it just doesn’t get any better than this. “C’mon Mom!” he turned to yell at me as he continued to sprint towards the car.
In the weird slow motion time warp that is my mind I wanted to warn him to watch where he was going, to not run while looking back at me, because I could see that he was heading towards a row of parking stumps and I imagined him stumbling over them and crashing his perfect and precious form into the cruel pavement.
The impending scene played out so slowly in my head but so quickly before my eyes that I couldn’t make my lips form words of warning. But at the last second, he turned and loped easily over the parking stumps.
I, on the other hand — who apparently can’t trot and have a complex thought at the same time — I began to stumble over air. My upper body got ahead of me and I began list forward as I was trotting along. I’m a little top heavy to begin with but with the added weight of my Nikon around my neck aiding and abetting the laws of gravity, I went down hard on the pavement — knees, then hands and camera.
Sometimes when you fall, you know its coming and you think to yourself, “Uh oh, I am going to fall down.” This wasn’t like that. The space of time between realizing I was going to fall and realizing I was on the ground was deleted from the history of the universe. It never happened. I was here and then there and the space between here and there was neither here nor there — it wasn’t ever there.
I was so focused on saving him from stumbling, that I crashed and burned myself before I knew it. Oh, if ever there was a Christian analogy.
I heard my camera hit the ground with an awful crisp metal crack. The lens filter went flying and as I was splayed out face down out on the pavement trying to figure out what the heck happened, I heard it somewhere off to the side circling and spinning like a penny on its edge before it came to rest. That was not a cheerful sound.
My hands were encrusted with parking lot pebbles and grit and felt like they were on fire. My jeans had clean scissor-like slits ripped in both knees which exposed a river of bright red blood. I couldn’t think clearly enough to decide whether to dig gravel out of my hands first or to see about the fate of my camera.
I felt very old and stiff. And humiliated. And I wanted to cry. Not because I was hurt, because I would heal (although it takes a lot longer than it used to) but what if I had busted my camera? That thought was too agonizing to process.
Miraculously, due to the amazingly sturdy magnesium alloy construction that is Nikon, my camera was fine. No busted glass, no worse for the wear. And that is why I chose Nikon – I knew this would happen sooner or later. I have a long history with dumbassery and the scars to prove it. If there is a point to this story, and I’m not sure there is, it is this: Buy Nikon.
See what a nice crisp picture a Nikon can capture as it’s bashing into concrete?
As for me, I am not made of magnesium alloy, and I didn’t get off as easily as my camera. Sean rushed back to me and helped me up, pausing only to marvel over the coolness that was my bloody knee. He clapped his hands and then gleefully rubbed them together like a mad scientist and suggested that we should head home where he could “doctor me up”.
And so he did. When we got home, I was instructed to wait in the bathroom until he could find his doctor kit. After scrounging around in his toy box, he returned to attend to the wounded.
I sat on the edge of the tub while he donned surgical gloves and dabbed at my knee with a wet paper towel. He listened to my heart with his stethoscope and gave me a shot in the thigh, just in case. He very gently put on a dollop of “Neopesporverin” and then two or seven band-aids. And then offered to share a Tootsie Pop with me.
And I have to tell you — that memory alone is probably worth the price of a scraped knee.