Enough time now has passed that I can write about Lea's, um, tree incident without flinching. It goes like this: we were headed to the car after having dropped R & V off at school one morning last week. As is our custom, we stopped and chatted with various people along the way. We said our verbal "Seeyalaterhaveagoodmorning!" to the last of these fine folks, but Lea continued to wave at them while looking over her shoulder. I said, "Watch out, Lea, watch out..." But it was too late.
She walked into a tree.
Which wouldn't have been so bad, except that it made her fall, and she landed facedown right on the spot where one of the tree's roots began to jut away from the tree trunk. I could tell it was bad because she was completely silent. I thought to myself: oh, shit.
I turned her over and picked her up, choosing to ignore for the moment the blood running down her face and both knees. We live only 2 minutes from the school, and I just wanted to get her home as soon as possible. Now, nothing like this had ever happened to her before, but from experience with other children, I instantly braced for what would surely be a festival of screaming and crying. But that didn't happen. Instead, she transformed into some cross between herself, a newscaster, and Scarlett O'Hara.
"Something has happened! Oh, oh, something has happened!" she said. She was strangely calm.
"Yes, baby, you fell down."
"Oh, I am afraid for my face! Is my face alright? This is very, very terrible."
"It's gonna be fine. We'll go home and I'll fix you right up."
"I don't think I can take this. I don't think I can take this. Oh, it hurts, it hurts...I'm...I'm...I'm...going to die..."
I'm happy to report that she didn't die. She did, though, have some nasty abrasions over her eye and on her temple, and a small but deep gash right on her cheek. And her knees were all ripped up. I tricked her into letting me clean everything up by saying that if we didn't, she'd get a scar just like the one on Mommy's tummy. I lifted my shirt to remind her of my 6-inch monstrosity (don't ask), and she became instantly cooperative.
Since then, I've been thinking about the things she said right after she fell down. The way she seemed at first to be a third-party narrator, how she focused on her face, how she embraced melodrama with her I'm going to die declarations, and how she let me swab all the cuts with antiseptic without making a peep other than an occasional sharp intake of breath. It was so unlike her sisters, who would have whipped themselves into a frenzy, inadvertently pummeled me with flying fists and feet, and sworn a horrible revenge on the tree.
Also since then, I've been reminding her to watch where she's going. Which is pretty good advice for just about any situation, really, if you think about it.