Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | February 18, 2010

And That’s How I Got That Scar…

I read a blog post recently saying words to the effect of, “I survived Valentine’s Day without slitting my wrist….”

Alas, the same cannot be said of my day as Daddy on Duty.

Here’s what happened:

I had removed the child car safety seats (all three of them… Washington State requires children under the age of 26 to have special car seats installed) to allow me to fill my vehicle with adults (for a change), and it was time to reinstall the seats before my day of driving the kids around. The installation of car seats is something with which I’m well experienced. Still…

One of the older seats requires the seat belt to pass through the middle of the back of the seat, and passing the seat belt through that section of the seat means reaching your hands through these very narrow openings on either side. I was in a little bit of a rush, and as my hands were wedged in there trying to pass the seat belt latch from one hand to the other, both of my wrists kept scraping up against the hard (and sharp!) plastic edge of the openings on either side.

Passing the belt from right hand to left hand, my left hand was necessarily a little less flat than it had been going in (because it was now holding the seat belt latch), so I had to pull rather hard to get my hand free of the opening without losing the seat belt. Fine. Got that done, got the seat belt fastened, pushed down on the car seat with my weight and tightened the belt as much as possible. Checked the seat for wiggle — nope, it’s in tight. There. Done. But wow, my wrists hurt.

Same routine with one other seat.

The third seat is just a booster seat… our oldest no longer legally requires the 5-point harness. For now. Our state legislature is always looking out for car seat manufacturers, however, so that could change soon.

[Did you know that there is no statistically significant difference in crash survival/injury rates for children ages four and up between using car safety seats and not using car safety seats? I read all about that in Car & Driver Magazine. Apparently, the legislator in Washington State who proposed raising the age limit requiring car safety seats doesn’t read Car & Driver. She also (this is true — she used to represent my district) does not have kids. And is not married.

You would think that in a state where car pooling is supposedly encouraged, they wouldn’t discourage the car pooling of the proverbial “soccer moms” by requiring every child to have car safety seats. And how does requiring car safety seats discourage car pooling? You try adding extra kids to your car if it means constantly installing and uninstalling car seats. See above. And below.]

So, with my car once more street legal for hauling around my three sons — cue television theme music here, but only if you’re old enough to have seen a certain show in syndication when you were a kid — I strap in the kids and head off to take them to our middle son’s gymnastics class at 1pm. No school this week, by the way. It’s “random week off for no apparent reason” in our school district.

Halfway down from our house to the gym, the pain in my wrists became strong enough to creep into my awareness. I glance at my left hand.

AHHH!

So, that’s why it hurt! The cut is a perfect, straight line across, and the blood is just starting to well up. It really is a beautiful cut. Movie perfect. So perfect, it suggests exactly what such a cut in a movie would suggest. (Don’t make me stop this car and explain to you what I mean.)

And of course, looking at it makes it sting even more.

Luckily, it’s also a very shallow cut, and the bleeding is very, very slow. And light. But that straight red line on my wrist… great. Just as I’m about to be seen in public with my boys. Not the image I’d like to project.

I reach down (remember, I’m still driving at this point) and grab my first aid kit. Yes, it was within easy reach. Isn’t yours? Okay, mine was within easy reach because I’d recently had a bunch of adults in the vehicle, and the kit got shoved up front while I was cleaning it out. And, yes, my vehicle is a mini-van. Also a state law.

With one hand on the wheel, I pop open the first aid kit with the other. This is a practiced move… after all, I have three boys. At the next stop light, I pull out one of those antiseptic wipes and start cleaning out the cut.

Yeah. That stung. Ouch, ouch, baby.

The cut wasn’t bleeding much at all. That was the good news. I put some Neosporin on the cut. All well and good.

But… do I put a bandage on it? The cut is fairly long. And any bandage will call more attention to it than leaving it alone. What to do, what to do…

And while I’m tending to my superficial wound, and contemplating the ramifications of appearances, it also occurs to me: “Hmmm. A story for my blog.” Kinda like that time I got stuck in an elevator in New York City at a quarter to midnight on New Year’s Eve. “This would make an interesting story some day” runs through my head a lot.

We get to the gym. The youngest boy is asleep in his car seat. He hasn’t had a nap yet today, and he needs one. Great. Okay, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll leave oldest boy (who is legally old enough to be left in the car alone) with youngest boy while I go in with middle child.

“Nooo,” whines oldest boy, “I want to go innnn!”

Okay. I’ll take oldest and middle boys into the gym, get middle boy started with his class, let oldest boy play with his Lego bricks (which he brought, because dad is smart enough to make sure he had a distraction with him) in the observation area, and go back out and sit with the sleep-deprived youngest son in the van.

…all while being careful not to flash my sporty, fresh cut wrist to the moms (all moms, no dads) who brought their tots to class.

Good plan.

Ten minutes into my cunning plan, the oldest boy walks out to the car and opens the sliding door next to sleeping child, and whines in a loud voice, “I’m hunnnngryyyyy.”

Cue: youngest child wakes up crying. Thanks, oldest child.

So I bring everyone into the gym, and the other moms are much amused by my witty repartee with the whining oldest son, while I hold the clinging youngest son and watch middle son have one hell of a good time out on the mats. While Dad was smart enough to make sure oldest child had a distraction, he wasn’t smart enough to bring food. After all, we did just eat before leaving the house.

Okay. All this may make it sound like it was “one of those days.” It wasn’t. Or that I’m one of those hapless fathers you see on TV sitcoms. I’m not. In fact, it was a very pleasant day, and everything went smoothly — the pain in my wrist notwithstanding.

Seven-and-a-half-year-olds whine, that’s just how it goes. One-and-a-half-year-olds nap when it’s not convenient, and won’t nap when you’d like. And fathers install car seats and, occasionally, injure themselves doing so. That’s part of the job description, too.

All told, we all had a good day. There was the gym class, followed by some television and a quick dinner at home (funny how oldest child forgot all about being hungry once we left the gym), followed by gym for the oldest, then swimming for the middle, then home for snack and bed time. I got everyone ready for bed quite early and had the kitchen all cleaned up and the rest of the house back in the relatively clean shape it had been in that morning. All in time for when Penny (my soon-to-be-ex-wife, for those of you just joining in) arrived later that night.

It was not an “amazing day with Dad.” Nothing that the kids will ever remember as a stand-out day. But that was kind of the point: to have a good, normal day where Dad was running the show and everything went relatively smoothly.

And I would probably not have even bothered spending a post telling you about all of that, except for the fact that I slit my wrist amidst the whole process, and was reminded of that fact all day today. See, it was a shallow cut, and I didn’t bandage it, which means now with the way it’s healing… well, let’s just say that it looks rather obvious, and I went to taekwondo today, where one is constantly extending and holding out one’s hands and arms.

I kept waiting for someone to ask me what happened.

When a friend of mine in college accidentally cut his wrist, someone asked him that very question. His answer?

“I cut myself shaving.”

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Responses

  1. I loved your side note about the car seats. I wonder how many other injuries they’ve indirectly caused to the people installing them….

  2. Come on! Admit it! You are really Chevy Chase and this post is your way of researching the script for your next movie!

    Returning to reality… There is a thought that I keep using when I get into such a fix as you describe. I tell myself that I’m smarter than the inanimate object which is causing me so much grief, and if it is winning, it’s because I’m trying to do things faster than I can do them correctly in the first place.

    As for the kids, I take their behavior as indicating they could at that time use a little more attention from dad. You were distracted regarding your cut, and for some reason kids can sense when you aren’t totally focused on them. Having to deal with this mutiny of the mini-people in front of a collection of moms had to have embarrassed you, adding to the problem. We men know well how women consider us inept when kids are involved.

    You obviously got through all of this OK, and you will someday be telling this story to the girlfriends of your sons. You will enjoy watching your sons squirm when you do! Parental payback is always satisfying. You just have to wait awhile.

  3. Totally right on the car seat issue. A back seat with a seat belt is just as safe as a car seat after about age 2. But given the variable sizes of kids these days, it’s more dependent on how well the belt fits on them. We still keep our little guy in a 5-point seat because it seats him higher to see out the windows. But it is a pain in the butt to remove and replace if necessary.

    More importantly though, how did Penny react to the day? Was there any sign of appreciation? Apathy? Disruption to the norm?

    I’ve always found that on days when little me and I are on our own into the night, that a lot more gets done when the day is through. Things look a little cleaner, more stuff is prepared for the next day or event. Not to say wife doesn’t contribute – it’s not like I’ve taken on all the laundry duty – but there does seem to be less “I’ve done enough today”, or at least that point doesn’t get reached until later than usual.

    I think you’ll find you’re more than capable of handling all that on your own. But the possible issue is that Penny will either think you’re not doing enough when the kids or with you, or she’ll resent the fact that you can get more done than she can.

  4. I’ve been a parent long enough to know that a good, normal day IS pretty amazing!

  5. enjoy the normal days of being mr. dad!

    as for the cut–well, people will stare maybe, be curious, perhaps talk about it behind your back …but in the end, YOU know how you got that cut, and it will heal….

  6. Pardon me, sir… your sense of humor is showing. Loved the not-so-subtle jabs at Washington regulators. A friend across the river in Vancouver, WA told me she’d probably have to send her daughter’s booster seat out on her first date with her!

  7. Lol 🙂

  8. I take it Penny did not even notice how you tried to slit your wrist after just one day with the kids….. LOL!

  9. Ahhh. It all makes sense now. No, don’t draw attention to it with a bandaid, think…gauze wrap! Yup…all around your wrist. Thick, too. And if that doesn’t garner enough sympathy…cast, but only if I get to sign it first. You don’t mind going for a nice scenic drive, right?

    No, seriously…welcome to the tranches. The amazing days with the kids come a lot more easily as they grow older. You’ll see.

  10. Sounds like a normal day to me…right down to the slit wrist. You did good “it never rains…” But did Penny use the day wisely?

  11. An amazing Dad writes an amazing post! Very humorous and I almost believed you about the state requiring safety seats for those under 26 (I’m so guillable). -Pippi

  12. Good job taking care of the kids by yourself! Way to go superdad! Very funny about the scar.

  13. Nice excuse:) We have the whole car seat thing here too. Wanna know something funny- The weight limit is now up to 90 lbs. I weigh 96. They keep moving that weight limit up I’m back in a booster:)

  14. My parents cat jumped out of my arms once and left a long, deep scratch across my wrist in just that location. Later that day, I paid for something, and held my hand out for change. The cashier looked at my wrist, looked up at me, then quickly looked away. I wore long sleeves for a while after that.

  15. Ha! =) Nice one. Thanks, I needed that.


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