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Moment 5: Run over

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Lost in thought and inching through an intersection that crosses the bike path, I hear a sickening thud. I look up to see a man’s face in my side window. I screech to halt and let loose a disembodied scream. Heart racing, panic rising, nausea welling, I see him fall to the ground beside the car. I screech to a halt, open the door slowly, shaking.

He’s lying face down on the pavement.

Almost immediately, a crowd gathers on the sides of the road. Hot tears are streaming down my cheeks, up my nose and into my ears. I can’t see straight; the sobbing is blurring my visions and my ability to speak.

People are comforting me, and I’m trying to tell them to stop. I’m not the one on the ground. But I can’t stop sobbing. It’s embarrassing and ridiculous.

I dial 911 and somehow tell them our location. They ask me if he’s breathing: Yes. “Can he talk?” Yes.  Is he bleeding? “No. They tell me to tell him not to move.

A friend takes control of the situation, and sits with the man coaching an updating him as he lies face down on the pavement.

My mind races: Where did he comes from? Why didn’t I see him? How did this happen? Will he be okay? Will I be arrested? Will our insurance triple?

The assembled onlookers are assuring me that he’s fine, and that everything will be fine.

Within 10 minutes, two fire trucks and an ambulance are on the scene. The paramedics examine the man who is shaken but physically unharmed. The police take a statement from me. The man walks off to meet his wife.

I feel like I’ve been run over.

This is my fifth post for the September – 21 Moments Writing Challenge.  Sixteen more to go! 

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It’s the end of August, and we’re blessed with yet another magnificent sunburnt day. Jericho beach is tranquil but for the seagulls swooping for lost fries and bits of fish. The tide is waaaaaay out.  Boys on the cusp of teenage-hood head to the shallow waters with their skimboards held high. As for us, we’ve squelched our way across the muck hand-in-hand to the water’s edge, I in clothes, iPhone in pocket, and Theo in his new hand-me-down wetsuit.

Theo gazes out at the water hypnotized, and then suddenly, he bolts. He runs and runs and runs. Pretty soon he’s a speck, and I start to panic.

Voice A: Should I call him back? He’s going too far. He could drown!

Voice B: Nah. He’s a great little swimmer. He’s not going to drown. He looks so free. Freedom is what childhood is all about. Loosen up; it’s summer.

A: There’s a fine line between freedom and disaster.

B: Relax! In the 60s, parents probably dropped their four-year-olds off at the beach and went home to make muffins or have a martini. Stop being so uptight.

A: Uptight?! I only get one shot at parenthood. I’m not going to blow it.

B: Look at him! He’s in heaven. I think I’ll take a photo.

A: A photo – are you that self-absorbed?! What if he trips, gets flustered, falls in the water and can’t get up?

B: The water is so shallow, it’s probably 6 inches deep.

A: Kids drown in bathtubs!

B: I’ll throw my jacket and phone in the muck, run in and get him. It will take a minute.

A: A minute! That’s way too long! Brain cells die by the second.

[pause]

Oh look, he’s coming back … [exhale]

This is my fourth post for the September – 21 Moments Writing Challenge.  Seventeen more to go! 

Moment 3: Crash landing

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The trip is long and patience is short. The air is stale, our muscles are stiff, we’re tired – hopped up on sugar, salty snacks and anticipation. After three weeks away, we should be landing in Vancouver in about an hour. But it’s going to be a long hour. Why? Because Theo has completely lost it.

We’ve been on the road (from Niagara to Toronto during rush hour), in line (at the dingy car rental) or in the air (including 1.5 hours on the tarmac) for about 12 hours. No one has slept a wink.

Theo is like a caged animal ready to break through the windows. He’s tired, beat, spent, but can’t settle. So he handles it the only way he knows how: by screaming and yelling and thrashing around in his seat. He’s exhausted our snack supply and is no longer capable of managing an iPad without damaging it, and there are no TVs on the flight.

We try everything. We break out his superheroes, give him a milk, hug him, sing songs, chat, read, shush him, shake our fists, get him to look out the window, sigh, cajole, but he rages non-verbally against the injustice of being trapped in the machine.

Finally, I spot the snow-capped mountains of North Vancouver in the distance, the  matchbox buildings below and the ocean ahead. The wheels make a crunching noise as they drop, the pressure shifts, we buckle up and prepare for landing. And still Theo yells, moans and thrashes.

Slowly the plane descends. We see the dotted lines of the runway. We can taste freedom and almost feel the soft beds of home.  The wheels hit the tarmac, we exhale. Silence. Mark and I look over at Theo as his eyelids gently flicker, fade and close.

This is my third post for the September – 21 Moments Writing Challenge.  Eighteen more to go! Bear with me! 

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Theo’s ears perk up. “What’s that?” He hears the happy shrieks of the refugee kids, who live in a basement suite next door, outside our house. He grabs his plastic gun and races shoeless down the stairs and out the door. The kids are giddy rolling around on our new neighbours’ plush carpet of grass. I sit on the balcony overlooking our own yellow lawn, which has turned to dust over the dry summer months.

I raise my glass to the kids’ mother whose sari sparkles in the warm evening sunlight. The boys run to her guns pointed – pow pow! – and she crumples as if shot giggling as she hits the sidewalk.

She gets up and thanks me for a box of toys dropped off earlier in the week. I explain that it wasn’t me; it was our neighbour who lives downstairs but she seems to think we are the same person.

Soon we are 12 or 15 on the sidewalk. A posse of kids runs up and down the walk under the tall silver maples, and a group of parents chatter glasses in hand.

In halting English she asks if a pair of sisters from across the street are my daughters and then if one of the older boys is my brother. I say no and point to Theo. She nods confused but smiling.

She tells that her tall, rambunctious daughter will start school this week and how as a baby, she was tiny and malnourished and had terrible asthma in Nepal but it’s all much better in Canada.

Her landlord calls to her. Something is burning on the stove, she says. She turns to me and says, “This place is no good; water is leaking,” and shrugs her shoulders.

This is my second post for the September  21 Moments Writing Challenge. 

Moment 1: Summer’s end

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It’s 5 pm, and the slanting September light sparkles and dances across the water. Despite the threat of autumn with its heightened sense of purpose, the beach is covered in glowing bodies soaking up the last vestiges of summer’s heat.

From our spot in the sand, we spy a shimmering haze of calm diggers bent over buckets in search of butter clams, mussels and cockles. Not even red tide warnings and the possibility of shellfish poisoning deters them from the lure of the catch.

A stream of paddleboarders pick their way gingerly through the reeds as kayakers glide stealthy through the waters. A lone sailboat flaps its white sails in the distance.

We slather more sunscreen on our sun-baked shoulders and sip our illicit cans of beer mesmerized by the ephemeral beauty of this shining moment between summer and fall, freedom and responsibility. Meanwhile, four children oblivious to summer’s closing act splash around at the water’s edge, their spray glittering like fireflies as peals of laughter echo across the inlet.

This is my first post for the 21 Moments Writing Challenge to be written this September. 

Lake life

We paused for a week this summer to dive into the magic of lake life. Family came from all over to celebrate my Dad’s 80th birthday with wine, limericks and lamb. When we weren’t eating or breaking for mojito time, we were all in an out of the lake for quick dips, lingering floats and epic swims across the lake.  But no one took to the lake more that than the two newly minted four-year-olds who spent hours splashing in the shallow waters,  leaping off the dock in life jackets or wrapped up in double towels. We spent most of our time on the dock hypnotized by the glittering waters, a perfect break from the madness of modern life.

The lake

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One of the highlights of our recent Ontario holiday was the glittering backyard pool at my parents’  house. The pool became an obsession for Theo who WANTED TO BE IN IT every minute, and for me who couldn’t stop taking photos and videos of him in the rippling turqoise waters.

Theo brought energy, enthusiasm, excitment and unbridled joy to a pool that’s typically used for gentle lap swims by my parents or simply to gaze at lemonade-in-hand from a sun-baked muskoka chair.

When Theo wasn’t in the pool, he  was leaning over the pool’s edge, dragging his hands through the water or soaking up the heat of the surrounding cement wrapped in towels. By the time we left, he could dive in and swim the width of the pool, do forward and double backwards somersaults (AKA “rolling summer big saults”) in the water. His love of the pool rekindled a love of swimming and just playing in the water that I haven’t felt in years.

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Next up: photos from the lake!

Did you have any standout summer experiences with your kids this summer?