Next Full Moon

Sunday, May 3rd Full Flower Moon

29 March 2011

...wait. Why am I in charge, again?

I am reminded of the sage advice offered up by Mysterious Bill S_____ as he lay, laughing from the diaphragm, upon the cold asphalt of a dirty parking lot:

"It's how you learn."

And while my son J had not been drunkenly attempting to literally stop on a dime with less than perfect success aboard a borrowed bicycle, he had been brazenly attempting to master the art of braking.

J is fine. His fork took a lot of impact...

Long time readers may recall the beginning of the riding to school on a regular basis.

This was proceeding well. Though J had shown some hesitation in coming completely to grips with the new to him 20" wheel (witness the crash into the sapling in Fort Ord months back as he cut the S-turn into an I-turn), he seemed to have a handle on things. Day 1 passed without incident. We talked about how important it is to NEVER crash into traffic, and how the only place to bail (barring a cliff) is over the side. We talked about looking where you want to go, and not at where you do not want to go- on account of you aim for your focus. Day 2, I did need to remind him to keep his feet in a level position to achieve max results from the coaster brake, but he managed just fine.

Day 3 was a different story.

Right away, at the top of the incline, he began picking up more speed than he could handle. Twice, I rolled up next to him and grasped the handle strap of his pack to slow him down. Twice, I reminded him to keep his speed under control.

The third time he began to pick up speed, he was already veering to the right. He was looking for the cut through we take at the bottom of the incline so as to avoid the well trafficked T-intersection. He veered too soon, and entered the drive way, not the cut through. When he saw the tree, he was going to fast to do anything other than crash. He looked at the tree and he rode right into it.

I was right next to him one minute, and the next he was peeling off into a tree.

He hit that tree square with his front wheel. He flew forward, impacted his thigh into the stem and pivoted thereupon to smack into the bark with his helmet. He had no time to get his hands up. Hit so hard it knocked his shoe off. It was like in the old cartoons, when a character busts through a wall and leaves a self-shaped hole with arms and legs akimbo. That was hard to see.

As I dropped my bike and stepped to him, my concern was for potential spinal injury. Though when I reached him, he was already moving to turn over, so I held his upper body still and brought him to my lap. I saw immediately that his helmet had taken the hit and there was no mark on him, but as I registered this, there was a gush of blood from under the brim which flowed pretty steady. Like a head wound will.

I told his brother D(who handled the situation with calm collectedness) to "call Mama and tell her to pick us up". Several passing cars stopped to ask if we needed help. L had only just left for work and took only 3-4 minutes to reach us, else I would have jumped right in that first Samaritan's car.

We had him at the ER within 15 minutes of crashing.

Then it was 4 hours to get him stitched. 16 total (4 sub-dermal, in the muscle belly, and 12 on the surface). It took longer because we insisted a plastic surgeon be called in for the sew-up. The cut is from the skin bursting as the helmet was forced against it, so there was very little that needed to be cleaned out of the wound. Imagine if it had been the tree...

As we wait for a crash replacement fork for his beater, I ride J to school on the back of the Big Dummy. He was hesitant about even this at first. He has been on several off-road rides since then (this happened over a month ago), and is getting back into the swing but his enthusiasm is greatly diminished. I hope he gets it back.

No parent wants to have their child hurt.

I think about what I did wrong: I should have taken more time with him getting comfortable on the bike before heading to school- it seemed like he attached a different and weightier significance to riding to school than to just riding along... I should have maintained a grip on his bag and slowed him completely rather than letting go when he was (to my mind) "under control"- unbeknownst to me at the time, he wasn't applying his brakes at all, he was letting me slow him... I should have let him decide when he was ready to ride to school- it's unfair to push my choices on him, and walking is a perfectly viable option even if it is dullsville.

I think about what I did right: with the help of my fantastic wife, I raised a little badass-that was a hell of a wallop...I stabilised his head-spinal injuries are no joke...I made him wear his helmet, and positioned it correctly-anyone who wants to haggle over helmets' usefulness can suck it while they go look at those helmet pictures again...I made him get back on the bike-though it may not end up his joy in life (as it is mine), allowing him to drop it because he had a set back would be the worst lesson I think he could be taught. Even if all he learns is that his old man is a hardass, he won't learn to be a quitter.

We all fall down. That's Life. The only thing to be done then is to get back up.


Johann Rissik said...

Hey, been missing you! The collision with the tree will be a turning point in his life and yours. It will remain a valuable lesson for the rest of his life.
And you handled it like a real pro, he's a lucky boy having you as his father.

Fxdwhl said...

dusting yourself off and getting on with it is a valuable lesson. glad it wasn't any worse for the little man. easing him back to the bike is the way to go.

i came within a hair of skingraphs after laying it down at speed in middle school and still have the scars today. it doesn't stop you from having the fun but it does give perspective in similar situations.

scrubbing gravel out of flesh was the most painful experience of my life. glad his wound was clean.

Gunnar Berg said...

It hard to see any child hurt, particularly our own. I hope he has learned prudence and I hope he is able to get back on his horse and ride like the wind.

Little_Jewford said...

I'm glad to hear the little guy is ok....if I can find one in his size he deserves a "broken bones heal and chicks dig scars" t-shirt...

Juancho said...

Chicks are going to dig that Harry Potter scar.

Angel said...

He's still more handsome than his dad. Glad he's ok.

Freewheel said...

Hey, my kid got a cut like that flying a kite... so don't feel bad. It's virtually impossible to have an active childhood and never experience stitches or broken bones. That's why children heal so fast.

kevin said...

damn, glad the Boy is ok Rev

Patch Kit Guy said...

Oops, that wasn't Angel who made that comment, that was me. I should make sure she's logged out of The Goog when making my snide comments.

Still, glad J is ok.

rigtenzin said...

I feel for you. It seems guilt is a required part of parenting. But you know that giving kids space to make mistakes gives them space to grow up healthy and independent.