Preschool pick up is brutal. Picture hyper 3-, 4-, and 5-year olds released from their classrooms into a narrow hallway filled with parents and nannies jostling for the right of way, strollers, baby siblings in car seats, dropped mittens, plans for playdates swirling, "Mom! I forgot my lunchbox!", whiny negotiations to play on the playground, the occasional wailing of someone separated from their primary caregiver, and, over the whole scene, glitter like snow falling from art projects held above the fray.
On December 5, we battled our way through that hallway. I thought the hard part was over. Buzzy successfully begged a few extra minutes on the playground then ignored my obligatory "five minute warning" that it would be time to leave soon. She ignored my notification that the five minutes were up, and it was time to go. She ignored me counting to three. She ignored me saying I was leaving without her. So I peeled Rosie off a ladder and left without her.
Buzzy's preschool tops a wooded hill. The path down was too far from the playground, so I took a shortcut towards the car. I was angry. Heady with her four-year-old capabilities and armed with a fresh sassiness that I blamed on preschool (certainly she wouldn't pick that up that attitude at home, right?), Buzzy had been ignoring me lately. Despite her bravado, I knew she'd follow me to the car. Sure enough, she came running, circled around me, then bolted off in the wrong direction.
One step from the bottom of the hill and the sidewalk, I turned to watch where she was running--and down I went. A second later, I was on my hands and knees, blinking the stars away. Rosie was sitting happily on the sidewalk; I had obviously managed to set her down before my left ankle. . . exploded?
"Oh, my God. I am so embarrassed. I hope no one saw that." Blink. Stars. More stars. Still on my hands and knees. And I realized, "Oh, my God. I need help. Where is everybody?" Blink. Breath. Realize: I wasn't on the path; no one saw me.
Think. Okay. First: get Rosie before she wanders off, too. Thank God, I fell a foot away from my parked car. I somehow hopped and leaned on the car and strapped her into her seat. I waited for Buzzy who wandered back eventually, and talked her into the car. I successfully touched my fingers to my nose and decided I could drive. I sang the three miles home to keep my mind off of what I was going to do when I got there. I still don't know how we all got inside, although crawling was certainly involved.
I called Greg and finally burst into tears. "I hurt myself; I can't walk; I can't take care of my baby; I don't know what to doooo!" He said he was on his way. Good man. Then, of course, I called my mommy. "Mommy, I hurt myself and I can't walk and I can't take care of the baby and do you think I broke my foot?" My mom reminded me that she was unqualified to diagnose me from Chicago and without a medical degree. She made sure that help was coming, and she said it would be okay. I stopped crying. Our wonderful sitter arrived, and Greg took me to the E.R. "Just a sprain," they said, when they reviewed the x-ray. A quick lesson on how to walk with crutches and we were out the door with the name of a doctor to call if I wasn't walking in a week.
"Man, it's going to be an ugly week until I can walk again," I remember saying to Greg as I jauntily used my crutch to punch the handicapped button to open the door.
Seven weeks later, my foot is still purple and swollen, I'm sporting an orthopedic boot, I need crutches to walk, and they gave me a temporary handicapped parking pass.
To be continued....