Monday, October 20, 2014

Does Our Insurance Cover This? Injury Report- part 1

I recently posted the epic description of Monkey's sixth birthday party and the party-ending injury she sustained at the end of it. As you might imagine, the top of a fourteen-year-old boy's skull is very thick, and when connecting via gravity with a six-year-old's face, bad things happen.

Luckily, she was not seriously hurt.

Ice and ibuprofen worked wonders to keep things down initially. The morning after the party, she didn't even look bruised. We thought we were in the clear.

HA HA HA

To be sure her eye was OK, we got her into an eye doctor on Sunday afternoon. She was due to have her kindergarten eye exam anyway, so it just made sense. I explained to the doctor what had happened.

Her vision was fine and he spent a bit of time checking her eye's reactions. Nothing looked to be too badly damaged. He remarked on the bruising and advised us to keep up with the ice. He also said the worst of the swelling should be done, since we were approaching the 24-hour mark from the injury. After the first 24 hours, it should be all recovery. It would turn funky colors, and then we should be good.


HA HA HA

I took that to mean, "Don't expect her face to blow up like a giant purple-green balloon, because if that hadn't happened yet, it won't!" Riiiiiiiight.

That afternoon, she took a nap on the couch.


When she woke up, the swelling was so severe you could not see any definition from her cheekbone to her nose. She was complaining the corner of her eye was itching. The swelling in the crease of her tear duct had sort of blocked it. It was deep purple, almost black, and the tear duct itself was red.


MDD and I had some worried conversations out of earshot. I was afraid the doctor had missed a potential break in her eye socket or one of the bones in her face. Why on earth would it swell so badly right after the 24-hour mark, when he SAID it wouldn't do that???

We debated how to respond. Neither of us wanted to scare her and she was clearly not in the mood for it to be poked. Taking her to the ER would mean a long, drawn-out night and a lot of waiting. But...were we missing something?


We agreed to call the pediatrician's office after-hours number. The doc on call got back to us shortly and I explained what had happened. She was relieved we'd had the eye checked out, because their main concern with that type of injury is damage to the eye itself. With that ruled out, there was no need to haul off to the ER for a long, needless evening. She recommended we call the office in the morning and see her regular pediatrician.


MDD and I had a restless night, checking on her and trying to keep her head elevated as she slept. She was fitful and sore and not in the mood for shenanigans.


Since the office didn't open until 9:00 and school starts at 8:40, we decided to let her go to school. We both took off from work. There was no telling what the doc was going to want done, and neither of us had slept much. So, we brought her to school and tried to shield her from the constant remarks of, "WOW! What happened to your EYE??" At least while we waited in the line to go inside.


We sent a note to the teacher explaining the injury and that we'd be picking her up at some time to go to the doctor. Then we went home and called his office. The doc couldn't see her until 1:15, so we crashed to try for some catch-up sleep.


I totally love Monkey's pediatrician, even though his office is really far from where we now live. I know we're probably better off finding someone closer to the new house... but he's awesome. He's taken care of her since the day she was born (well, once she was released from the special-needs NICU doc, at least).

Plus, he looks an awful lot like the lead singer of Live. Remember that band? Mid-90's alt rock...anyway... He is a really cool guy. And his cell phone ringtone is the minions from Despicable Me talking/singing, so Monkey is convinced he's friends with them. That ups the coolness factor, too. 


We picked her up from school and got to the ped's office, half an hour away. Our normally outgoing, talkative girl was very reserved. I think a lot of kids were staring at her swollen face. There is only so much you can do to say "it's not that bad" when in fact, it kind of IS. And she and you both know it, so why bother with the fake stuff, right?


A thorough exam did not bring up any further concerns. He was glad the eye doc got a look at her eye function and that it all looked good. He didn't THINK there was a break, but at nearly 48 hours past the injury time, it was going to be impossible to really tell without an x-ray. He didn't feel she needed one, because her nose was clear and the septum did not appear deviated.

He advised us to keep her out of gym for at least 10 days. I asked why that long, and was reminded the last thing we needed was her catching a ball or elbow or ANYTHING else to the face, with the amount of swelling/bruising she already had going on. Point taken.


In celebration (and recognition that MDD and I hadn't eaten), we hit up Steak N Shake after we were done at the doc's office. If you have never been there, you are missing out on possibly the best milkshakes ever made. For real.  They are AMAZING.


In my normal-paranoia state, I was kinda scared about the injury for other reasons. In our present times, the news seems to be rife with articles about kids being injured by those who care for them. For some reason I was absolutely convinced we'd be explaining the injury to those nice folks at DCFS. (Department of Children and Family Services, for those who don't know the acronym.)

I don't know why. I just figured we would have to deal with them. My penchant for melodrama rides again, I guess. My fears were unfounded and for that I am grateful.


So, back to school goes Monkey on Tuesday with her big swollen face and a note saying no gym for 10 days. We soon discovered that at her school, "no gym" also means "no recess" and that is kinda harsh. She's six...she needs to move around...but at recess the only thing she got to do was play on the iPad with a bunch of other kids who also can't take gym class.


Wednesday was class pictures. Yay. I had talked with a friend who is very gifted at makeup about how to approach this purple thing on my girl's face. She gave me some great tips and even with my limited skills, I was able to make a bit of a difference for picture day.

MDD was still pretty set on waiting for retake day, but I had hopes.


Thursday was her actual birthday. She didn't get off to a good start; very mopey and clingy and wanted to stay home from school. We dressed her up all cute but she just wasn't really into anything in the morning. Upon gentle prodding, she finally told us she felt sad because this new school doesn't make a big deal out of your birthday, the way her preschool had. They sing "happy birthday" and you get a pencil and a sticker, and that's it. You're not allowed to bring treats-- not even non-food treats-- and "it's just like any other day, except for those few minutes when they sing."

She has a point, IMHO. I felt sad for her, too.

I managed to wrangle a couple hours off and texted our babysitter that I would pick Monkey up myself that day. I stopped at the grocery store on the way to get a giant Olaf balloon.


She saw Olaf before she saw me, and a flash of something dark in her face gave way to joy. Not for Mommy, of course, but OLAF! BECAUSE OLAF!!

I told her I was there to take her out for her special day. We went to a local indoor amusement park kind of place where I spent far too much money on bowling, arcade games, and rides. And no, Mommy does not do the Tilt-a-Whirl, even on your birthday. I'm pretty sure no one wants me barfing on you. Least of all, ME, as I would have to clean all that up. Uh-uh. 

We met up with MDDaddy at Monkey's second favorite restaurant, a large Italian chain where they serve breadsticks and are known to sing for people's birthdays. Her first favorite restaurant is a buffet, but they don't sing so they were O-U-T of the running for her birthday dinner. We have priorities.

Our service kinda stunk, but improved greatly once I was able to corner the waitress and point out the "birthday princess" sash on Monkey's chair. The poor server was tired and had too many table seated at once, but she went out of her way to be more attentive to us after that. She brought out dessert and sang (quietly). Crisis averted.

We got home, opened gifts and called the grandparents. She was pretty tuckered out, though, so it was off to bed soon afterward.


The next night (Friday), we headed to our church's family retreat camp. This was the first year we were able to go, since it always falls on the weekend between the two girls' birthdays. One of their parties is almost always on that Saturday. We actually moved Monkey's party earlier to enable us to go, since so many kids from her kindergarten and Sunday school classes would have been on the camp retreat and unable to attend if we had it on that Saturday anyway.

--More on family camp, separately.



Monday night, after Monkey's shower, I was drying her hair and saw something...dark... on her head. Having just come from a weekend in a camp-like setting (complete with a nature walk), my first thought was, "OH NO-- tick!"  But it was BIG. And kind of hard to locate, since she is blessed with a good head of hair.

I finally grabbed a few barrettes and bobby pins and was able to move the hair away from this weird spot I'd seen. It was no tick.

MDD and I are probably two of the palest people on earth. When I was pregnant, we half-joked that Monkey might come out translucent-skinned, like those anatomy dolls with all the veins showing. She's not far off from that.

With the combo of pale skin, both of us parents having freckles and moles, and both her grandfathers having dealt with melanoma, we've been pretty good with sunscreen. Most of the time. Maybe not as good as we should be. She's had a few dot-moles we've watched and monitored, and we watch for new ones.

This was NEW. And big-- the size of my thumbnail. And weird-colored. And located just to the right of the usual place we part her hair for her formerly-standard pigtails for preschool.


I had MDD take a look at it. He didn't seem too concerned, since she has had other moles. However, I felt funny about it being so big and so new. There's no way it had been there in the summer or at her last doctor's visit.


I called the pediatrician's office at 9:01 the next morning and explained what we'd found. We weren't sure if he'd want to look at it himself or refer us to a dermatologist. An appointment was set for the next day with the regular ped.


Monkey and I met with him and our favorite nurse in the "procedure room" of the office. There were many scary-looking metal...things...on that tray. I tried to distract Monkey as best I could. She was told to lie face down on the exam bed and we turned her head to get the best light on the "finding."

Doc didn't like the looks of it, either. It was coming off. Period.

The doc explained patiently what he was going to do and they brought the tray of scary things around the other side of the table, away from Monkey's sight line. The first step was the shot.

INTO HER SCALP.

I was supposed to hold her hand and keep her still... while they stuck a giant needle in my baby's HEAD.

And then pushed in a bunch of BURNING stuff to numb it. It burned, and stung, and she cried horribly and I tried to hold her hand and wipe her snot and KEEP HER FROM MOVING while the big NEEDLE was in her HEAD.

Hyperventilating a little just typing that...reliving it. Not easy to do, especially while trying to look calm myself. It hurt and she was scared and in pain and I couldn't stop it. 

The doc placed a paper surgical tent over her head, with a cut-out area for where he was working. I was told to stay to one side. Noooooo problem. Did not want to be any closer, thanks.

He only had to cut a little bit of hair away to get to the skin, which was good. Monkey was still freaking out because the shot hurt and she was afraid it was ALL going to hurt. She asked what the paper thing was on her head.

The male nurse, my favorite of the doc's staff, told her it was a tent. She was confused by that.

I told her, "See! Look, now the rest of you might not have gone camping, but your head is!"

God bless that nurse, because he took one look at me, nodded, and ran with it. He started talking about camping and all the things you could do, and learning about nature, etc. Monkey's breathing stilled a bit from her frantic pace.

Mine would have too, if I hadn't looked over to see the ped cutting a slice of my child's head off.
Gulp. That will teach ME to look above the tent. I should have listened better!!


The offending slice was dropped in a specimen jar. It made a gross plopping sound of something way too big to be on my baby's head, thank you very much. Then came the stitching.

I watched them put more needles (this time, with thread) into my child's head. I held her still and kept talking about camping. And nature. And whatever I could to keep her calm and still.

She did not even want Steak N Shake. She just wanted to LEAVE.

All stitched up, we had to wait while she sat upright for a few minutes. They wanted to be sure she wasn't bleeding or going to react to the numbing shot. We also had to wait for the paperwork from the doctor.

He once again banned her from gym. This time for TWO WEEKS. I had a whole page of instructions about keeping her incision clean and what to watch out for and/or call the office about in the next few days. She was supposed to take it "super easy" through the weekend at least.


We went home. She decided we could still go to our church's weekly dinner. She was afraid people would make fun of her stitches or be freaked out by them. Luckily, we ran into our regular babysitter coming out of church as we went inside. She couldn't even see the stitches without looking super-closely. I was beyond grateful that she said that-- and so did her kids. Monkey visibly relaxed.

A quick calendar tally sadly informed us that our kindergartener had been OUT of gym more days than she actually ATTENDED gym at this point of the school year. That is sad.


We were also pretty concerned about the concept of her being unable to run around and move a bit during the school day. It had already made her antsy the first time, and I didn't want to see her get in trouble for fidgeting when she didn't have that physical outlet, again.


MDD and I debated. His original concern about gymnastics was we're paying for classes she isn't attending. My concern was the more time she spent away from the gym (and not moving around much all day at school), the more injury-prone she might be when she did get back to gymnastics.

We decided it would probably be OK to have her go to her gymnastics class that Saturday. I would speak to the coaches and also remind Monkey that she had to be careful. No somersaults or anything that would press her head against anything, and any movement which made her head feel even a little icky was to stop immediately.


...to be continued...


Friday, October 17, 2014

Monkey's Sixth Birthday (Mike Tyson Was NOT Invited)

I have this weird thing with dates. For some reason, dates stay logged in my brain the way other people might remember names or phone numbers. I am good about remembering the "BIG" things, like birthdays and anniversaries, just as much as the seemingly small, much less important ones.

The months of September and April are particularly filled with date triggers, both good and bad. Most of my April ones are bad. September is a mixed bag, really.

Most importantly, September means both Monkey's birthday, and her Big Sister's. They are ten days shy of being exactly four years apart.

That's even more noteworthy when you consider they have different moms. 

This year, our amazing miracle Monkey just turned SIX. We held  her party the weekend before her actual birthday this time, since we had other plans for the weekend after it. I also decided, for the first time, NOT to take her birthday off from work; instead, I thought it would be good for her to go to school on the actual day and experience being in school for the "BIG DAY."

Admittedly, this is somewhat due to my desire to live a little vicariously through my girl...as one of those unfortunate souls with midsummer birthdays, I never, EVER got to experience being in school for my birthday. My parties, when I had them, were always small gatherings of neighborhood and/or family friends. Hardly ever any school friends, since we were not in school and clearly that meant there were no phones or communication of any kind outside of spending the school year with such people. In hindsight, it is very odd to me that we never invited school friends for my parties... Maybe I didn't have any. What the hell?? Anyway, I digress...

This year, we have a new school, new house and neighborhood, and therefore were breaking all new ground in party planning. We have previously been very limited in inviting school friends. It's kind of easy because her birthday comes so soon into the school year.

Her very first school-time birthday (turning 3) came just a week and a half into her first year at part-time preschool. We didn't know anyone, so none of the classmates were invited. I had ZERO intention of bringing 20 kids between the ages of 2.5 and 3 to my home when potty training was not yet mandated and I didn't know the little petrie dishes. HAIL NO.

It was her "rock star" party-- I went all nutso with the theme and craft and games and singalong stuff set up in the garage...and it rained, and no one left the actual house to go to the garage until the very end of the party.

Monkey did top off the end of the party with an epic, Courtney-Love-worthy rock star diva tantrum though, complete with peeing her pants and passing out while our departing guests were still in the driveway. That. Was. AWESOME.


Turning four, she was attending the second preschool, at my work. Again, the event came very soon into the school year at a new place, new rules. Their deal was that you could drop party invitations in the kids' cubbies, as long as you invited the WHOLE class. Again, too soon, too young (that class ranged from ages 3-5), and too many kids-- plus we lived half an hour away from the school and uh, just...no.

So her 4th birthday had a few kids from the prior preschool, our family friends, and that was it. We also kept the theme to the invitations and cake, and rented a bounce house for the back yard of our rented house. Gambling on the weather, I chose more energy exertion and less craft supply cleanup. I was hit with a migraine the night before, but soldiered on and it all worked out great.


Turning five, we did the bounce house again, but went a different route on the invitations: we invited some--not all-- of the preschool class. The party was kind of like "Fight Club"-- the first rule of Monkey's party is: no talking about Monkey's party. We got around the "all or none" invitation drop-off rule by mailing invitations. By that time, we knew who the total brats were, and I was not about to have any of them purposely in my presence on a Saturday. Again--HAIL NO! My parents were here and contributed greatly to the Tinkerbell theme.

Note: I had a fabulous post written commemorating her fifth birthday, but Blogger ATE the damn thing right before I hit "publish." I've been harboring a grudge ever since, and never did go back to rewrite it. I should have learned my lesson by now and write things elsewhere to cut/paste here, but look at me, daring to risk all yet again by composing directly on the site...

I swear, if Blogger eats this post, I am going to find someone to kick right square in the jewels. Not kidding. 


This year, with the new school and neighborhood, we had some choices to make. Her elementary school posted classroom roster lists on the main doors just before school started. We took pictures of that. Based on prior experience, I figured we'd get a class list with names/phone numbers, like the preschool did.

It's October and we don't have that list yet, so I am really glad we took that pic and didn't try to wait for an actual list. We opted to just invite the WHOLE class this time. Being new, we figured it would give us a chance to meet some parents. I am sorely lacking in that department, since MDD drops Monkey off at school each morning. Other than the kids we know from our street and church, I had no clue who any of the kids are.

MDD's task was to get all the invitations handed to the kids in line before school started. This turned out to be a much bigger fiasco than any of us anticipated. Do you REALIZE how many people bring their kindergarteners to school late??? More than I knew, that's for sure. MDD was stressing a bit because the process took a couple of days, trying to catch them all.

At one point, a kid who's always late wound up playing next to Monkey. She told him we were going to invite him to her party but he wasn't there on time all week. FACEPALM.

She TOLD us she had said this... we reminded her we WERE inviting the ENTIRE class, and to please tell that little boy we had an invitation for him!  Ironically, though, he must have said something to his parents because he WAS on time the next day. 


Next came the RSVP period. Admittedly, I forgot to put a date for that, so bad on me...But still. As adults who have a five-year-old, by now you would think they've held (or attended) SOME kind of party sometime in their lives. It's just courtesy to let people know if you're going to be there or not.

For this party, since it was at our house, the actual count wasn't too crucial. If we were having it somewhere you pay per kid (and/or per parent), that's different. My main fear was making sure we had enough cake and goody bags so no one cried.


The theme this year was, of course, "Frozen." Monkey got a new Elsa shirt and we rented a pink/purple bounce house from a different company. The invitations were totally overpriced "Frozen" with sticker seals. The local grocery store where we've gotten three of her five prior cakes offered a "Frozen" theme, too. Done!

Monkey's big deal was asking MDD to set up something so she could sing for her guests. "Let It Go" is pretty much her power anthem. Since we are a musical family and have enough equipment for at least two bands, meeting this request was certainly feasible.


The weather forecast was iffy. Each day I watched it, willing the predicted rain to shift either earlier or later. Someone somewhere heard me, because it was chilly and raining the night before the party...and Saturday dawned warmer, sunny, and dry. The new bounce house company showed up early and had the thing set up inside of five minutes.

Overcome with excitement, Monkey asked to test it out while I was finishing dishes and food prep.

I am SO glad I told her "yes." Sometimes, that is really hard for me, because I am beyond uber-pragmatic and can usually think of ten reasons to say "no" to something for every one reason to say "yes." But I needed her outside anyway, so I told her to go for it.

And she did. One of the most beatific things I have seen in quite a long time:

The sunshine breaking through the clouds, and the vibrant pink/purple/teal blue of the castle bounce house, as my super-excited girl scrambles to scootch into the entryway...and bounced and bounced, her hair flying around all crazy.

She bounced in purest joy, and sang to herself, some made-up song about the best day there could ever be, and about being the princess in her purple castle, under the sunshine and shade from the tree leaves, under the bluest sky I can remember seeing...

I should add at this point: I had been on steroids all week for a nasty allergy flare-up, so everything of any emotional impact became HUGE all week, good and bad alike. This moment though, was all good.

Thus, all pumped up on the 'roids, I watched her sing to herself, and I cried.

After the year our family has had, it was a palpable reminder of the JOY in our hearts. Hers, especially. I stopped my rabid preparations and grabbed my phone to call Bunny and Papi. I know it bothered them they couldn't come to her party this year-- he is better, but still not cleared to fly-- and I just had to talk to my mom right then. I knew she would understand.

She did.


I explained to my mother what I was seeing. She could hear Monkey singing from the front yard. I watched the sun hitting her happy little face and I just melted. Unbearable gratitude bowled me over.

My mom understood. She reminded me to breathe it in, and hold onto it, because God knows we need a little more of that in our lives. I could hear in her trembling voice just how much she understood.


Then MDD came back from Big Sister's counseling appointment. I don't know what they discussed, but Big Sis seemed a bit agitated. She demanded to get in the bounce house too. Only fair, I figured, and so she got in there...but instead of the peaceful, joyful singing there was now all this shrieking and yelling.

Our neighbors a few houses down have twin five-year-old kids who are both in Monkey's class. They saw Monkey and Big Sis in the bouncer and begged to come in, too. I said OK, as long as everyone kept the screaming down. No wrestling, no sitting on the ramp/entryway space, and no roughhousing.

I resumed my cleaning until the yelling got loud again. I poked my head out the door and reminded Big Sis, who was sitting on the entryway ramp, that I had JUST told them not to sit there. Against the safety rules-- move it. I saw some jostling and hands grabbing at people, and reminded them all this was hands-off, or they'd come out. Then I went back inside.

About a minute later, Big Sis came sprinting into the house with Monkey's small shoes smooshed onto her much-larger feet. I pointed at them, said NO, and told her to get her own. She ran back out.

Then Monkey came running in herself, holding her head.

"Big Sis GRABBED me and made me fall on my head!"


I thought bad words. Several. 

I got Monkey an icepack and told Big Sis to get in the house. She looked at me, grabbed her gym shoes, and ran around the house to the back yard instead. The neighbor kids were somehow running around in Monkey's room. I told them they needed to go back to their house until the party actually started.

I found Big Sis hiding out, watching the side door of the house. I yelled at her to get inside. She asked where Dad was. I repeated, "GET INSIDE. Now." She started "explaining" that the little kids had hold of her arm...

Seriously, I lost it a little. She's twice their size. And I had *JUST TOLD HER* not to do exactly what she JUST did.

"GET. YOUR. BUTT. IN. THE. HOUSE. NOW!!!!!"

She again started arguing...I put up one hand and asked if I looked like I wanted to hear her argue right now. I am quite sure I looked crazy because her eyes went wide when she said, "no."


MDD had been in the garage, getting some things set up, and had missed most of what happened. He came in the side door when he heard me yelling and asked what was going on. I told him to ask his firstborn...who immediately blamed the five-year-olds for roughhousing. I stopped her and explained to MDD that I had JUST told Big Sis NOT to do EXACTLY what she then continued to do...which resulted in Monkey getting pulled out of the bouncer and landing on her head on the ground.


Related note: We had big issues with Big Sis last year at Monkey's 5th birthday party. So much so that MDD and I had some terse words in planning out this year's deal, to make sure that there would not be a repeat. Big Sis has a hard time seeing Monkey get attention without demanding some for herself. Often, that comes out in ways we'd really rather she not pursue. It's an ongoing struggle.


The kicker is that Monkey's birthday (and therefore, party) falls earlier in the month than Big Sis' does. So every year, there's the struggle for her to watch the festivities and wait another week or two for her own. Waiting is not easy for her, and there are lots of other dynamics at play.

Last year, Big Sis' mom was present at Monkey's party. Her role was supposed to be to supervise her own kid, just like any other parent was doing. That did not go well last year, and after the big scene Big Sis had made, MDD and his ex wound up taking an enormous chunk of time in the middle of the party MDD AND I WERE HOSTING to sit with Big Sis and deal with *her* issues, while I was left to manage the party alone.

Right when party guests were leaving, and Monkey was crying because her sister had been mean to her publicly, and there were goody bags to hand out, and lots of awkwardness, and it was all just not good. Seriously, SO VERY MUCH, NOT GOOD. There was ugly aftermath that was just... yeah. 



This year, Big Sis' mom was again slated to appear. Oddly enough, she loves Monkey, which is rather unexpected. But I felt very, VERY strongly that she needed to be better attuned to her own daughter's needs and situation in order to be willing and able to step in MUCH more quickly-- to either diffuse whatever arose, or get Big Sis the hell outta there, so Monkey did not have to fear her sister would make a big scene and embarrass her. Again.

As I have mentioned before, the dynamics of step-parenthood are not for the feint of heart. 

My take on the situation: I would never allow my daughter to make a giant fuss at ANYONE else's birthday party. Period. I would damn well pull her fussy little ass right outta the party if she did.

IMHO: No kid deserves to be humiliated at their own birthday party, FFS! Deliberately embarrassing the birthday girl in front of her friends is like, "scarred for life" territory. No, no, NO-- I would not allow my child to do that. Not that there's much chance of her even thinking about it, but if she did? Just, NO. 

MDD and I discussed this at length. It is very clear to all involved that my threshold of acceptable behavior is far less tolerant than MDD's or his ex-wife's. But I hold my own child to that same expectation-- and while she's four years younger, I know she is fully capable of complying, most of the time.


Knowing how strongly I feel about the situation, MDD had the excruciatingly uncomfortable task of explaining it to the ex. We arranged she would arrive slightly before the scheduled party time, to get Big Sis' stuff transitioned to her car in case a hasty exit was required. There would be NO repeat of forty-five minutes of MDD in seclusion trying to diffuse his older child's outbursts. She would be removed from the party, quickly and quietly, and without the drama payoff such behavior seeks.

Funny...just the concept of us agreeing to that, and having the three parental figures explain to Big Sis that this was being done, seemed to plant in her head the general knowledge that anything like last year's shenanigans was not going to be well-received.

She didn't even try. I count that as win-win for all involved.  United we stand, and all that jazz.


Monkey's gymnastics class also falls on Saturdays, and we had debated what to do about the timing. I had thought we should skip that week, but she was already going to miss the next week when we'd be out of town. So, with as much prepped as I could, I got her in the car and off we went...

Only to be stopped by a stalled freight train on the tracks leading to the gym. Which had never happened before. We were already going to be pulling her out of class early to get home in time for the party, and now were looking to be 15 minutes late to boot. I called MDD with that panicky, freaky-laughter voice, and he agreed we should just skip it and head home.

So we did, and got a much less rushed lunch in everyone, and finished the setup. MDD was getting the sound system rigged for the big debut. I was dealing with the food and decorations. The ex showed up right on time and Big Sis transferred her stuff to mom's car and off we went.


I am learning new birthday etiquette. Apparently you're supposed to indicate on the invitation whether or not the party is "drop off" or if you expect parents to stay. I had not done so, because we're dealing with 25 kids aged 5-6 at a bounce house...um, let's do some math. There were a couple parents who had schedule conflicts, and had talked to me ahead of time about a brief drop-off period, to be followed by the parent's return.

A couple others stayed about ten to fifteen minutes, then talked with me about leaving once they knew their kiddos were comfortable and apt to follow the rules. I took their cell numbers and advised if they and their children were OK, I would be, too.

The moral of all this being: if you are leaving your child at a party when you barely know the parents, please make sure you leave your cell phone number. And like, your NAME, or something? At the least.


Because...there was one boy from her class -- let's call him Jacob-- whose dad also brought his toddler sister. Not a big deal, given the nature of the party. As long as she can hang and Daddy's going to watch her, have some Cheetos and party on, little girl. We're good.


EXCEPT when said dad goes MIA in the middle of the party. Without notice. Or a phone number.


The party was supposed to be done at 4:30. All the "drop-off" parents returned about 4:20 or so, and we were handing out goody bags and all was grand. Several of the parents commented that since this was the first birthday party of the year, they were watching how we did things so they'd have an idea what to do when it was their turn.

Funny- I had told MDD that EXACT thing and he was incredulous that moms would actually DO that stuff. I was like, are you kidding? Hell YES they do- we ALL do it. Watch and learn, baby. Hers is probably the first party of the school year, so all eyes will be on how we handle it. He thought I was over-exaggerating... HA! Verbatim confirmation!!! Ok, I feel better. 


The plan was to get all the "school friends" off with their parents, leaving just our closest friends to watch Monkey open her presents. We were going to all go grab dinner after that, since the party food was just snacks.


Which was a great plan...except when we gathered everyone inside for presents, and here's this, uh, "extra" little boy, one of the school friends. Yep-- "Jacob."

No dad. No sister. Just Jacob, who is remarkably also barefoot and now has no idea where his socks went. Or his dad.


I did not want to panic the kid. I nonchalantly asked him if he knew his phone number. "Nope! We're still working on that!!" Big smiles.

Fake smile from me, as I ask if he knew his address. "Nope! That, too! Hey-- I get to stay LATE!! Can we go bounce more?"

Me: "Uh, no, buddy, Monkey is opening her presents." And then we're supposed to LEAVE but what the fresh hell are we supposed to do with YOU?? 

For what it's worth, Jacob was a model guest (minus the missing socks). There were a lot of concerned adults making eye contact over his head and more than a few mouthed "WTF"s going on. I confirmed Jacob's dad hadn't said anything to MDD or me.

Then the ex piped up with, "Well, he said he was going to take the little girl home for a nap..."

So...he said something to HER but she didn't get a phone number or let MDD or me know, apparently?? Faboo. 


Jacob has a rather common last name, which did not help. My dear friend and I were frantically Googling the name on our phones, trying to match it with an address within the same elementary school district that could possibly be his house. I had received the RSVP from Jacob's mom via email, but she hadn't given me her phone number. Her first name was also a very common one, and we did not know dad's first name. I didn't want to get her husband in trouble, but at this point it was a full HOUR past pickup time, and we weren't sure what else to do. Plus, we were hungry. 

I replied to her email from my phone, ever-so-politely pointing out that we hadn't heard from Jacob's dad, and did she know when he'd be coming to get him? Because the party was sort of, uh, over, and he's still hanging out in my front room...


The remaining kids (our two girls, and the five kids of our close friends) asked to go back out and bounce. I said sure, because the bounce house was going to be taken down in the next half hour or so. They all tumbled out and in and around again, hopped up on cake.**

**Important plot point, there.


My friend and I were trying to figure out what to do with Jacob when his dad finally pulled up in front of the house. It was 5:50, a full hour and twenty minutes after the official end of the party. Instinctively, the remaining grownups backed up from me as he approached our front yard.


Me: Uh...HI!! We were kind of wondering, uh, where you were?? Because things were kind of over, like, an hour ago.

Jacob's Dad: WHAT?? I...I thought it was 6:00?

Me: Nope. 4:30, actually... Yeah.

JD: Oh my God. I am SO SORRY... I just... (pulls out phone) I had it in my phone as going until 6:00.

Me: Yeah, no. Two to four-thirty. But he's fine, just needs his socks and--


(CUE INSANE SCREAMING FROM THE BOUNCE HOUSE)

The oldest, "big kid" there: Monkey, I'm sorry!! OHMAHGAWD I am SO SORRY!

Monkey: <SHRIEKING>

Me: WHAT HAPPENED? GET HER OUT! Bring her OUT here, please!

The "big kid" of the group gingerly brought out my screaming, sobbing, purple-faced birthday girl.

Apparently, she collided with him on a bad fall, catching the top of his head right, square in the face.

Right in the eye-- and bridge of her wee little nose, to be exact.


Massive chaos ensued.

Jacob and his dad decided that was probably a REALLY good time to get the hell outta there. My friend, who is studying to be a nurse, took control-- ice pack, Motrin, check for her ability to track a moving finger with that eye. No blown pupils, good. No blood-- scratch that, confirmed, we do have blood from the nose. We wiped it without letting Monkey see that was what it was.

The "big kid" was absolutely beside himself. He looked like he was going to vomit. We assured him it was an accident.


Watching your kid scream in pain is brutal. Not being able to do anything about it is worse. Even the ice pack hurt. She grabbed her brand-new Olaf doll for comfort.

Did you know Olaf is frosty, snowy white? Yep. Well, hers is now frosty-snowy white with some red specks. Look, kids: Bio-Hazard Olaf!! Yayyy!!


She didn't black out and her eye itself looked OK, but it was clear she was gearing up for one holy hell of a shiner. Nothing appeared to be broken and there was just the one trickle of blood.


We held and rocked her and got her Motrin. In the blur, the bounce house company came to take it down. Someone got everyone's shoes off the tarp and brought them in. My friend, her boyfriend, and their kids left. Somewhere in there, Big Sis and the ex also left.

My phone went off- email message: Jacob's mom, FREAKING OUT. She was out of town for a funeral and just got my email and had no idea where her husband was or why he hadn't been back to get Jacob or why he even left and OMG here's her number.

I called her back to let her know her offspring was safely back with his dad.


MDD's response: Holy CRAP, I would NOT want to be that guy right now. 

Mine: Oh, hell no. She's going to freaking KILL HIM. Twice, maybe. 

MDD: Most definitely. <shudder>



We did finally go grab dinner and later, iced the shiner again. Monkey was totally exhausted and passed out cold.


Stumbling into bed, MDD and I had a fun conversation.

Me: You know what? Jacob didn't get a goody bag.

MDD: Pretty sure that's the least of their worries right now.

Me: YEAH. I mean...who DOES THAT?

MDD: Apparently, him.

Me: Clearly, yes. But... the ex seemed to know where he went.

MDD: <groaning> Yeah... we shall need to talk about that.

Me: At least the only kid who got hurt in the bounce house was OURS. You know, we're not renters anymore. That could've ended badly.

MDD: Uh, it kinda did.

Me: True.


<pause>


Me: Ohhhh. OH, no!!!

MDD: What???

Me: Dude... she is going to have this big black eye...

MDD: Apparently.

Me: Yeah? Well, school pictures are this Wednesday.

<pause> 

MDD: ...There'll be a retake day.

Me: ...or, we see how good their Photoshop skills are.

MDD: Or both.

Me: Yeah...probably both.



Footnote: Monkey did get to sing her "Let It Go" anthem to her guests. She got shy at the beginning because everyone stopped playing and came over to watch her sing. Weirdly enough, it was the first time I have ever seen her nervous about singing. It was also the quietest rendition of that song she's ever delivered. The sound system MDD rigged worked perfectly, though. 

When I asked her later why she was so nervous and quiet, she said she had thought they would just be playing. Not ACTUALLY. WATCHING. Her. 


One other note: Another classmate's mom and big sister stayed for the party, though they had originally planned not to hang out. I was SO VERY GLAD they stayed. That big sister saved us from a total mess in Monkey's room. A bunch of the kids wound up playing in there, and made a mess- but Momma Kid made them clean it all up before she let them leave the room. That girl is welcome in my home annnnnnnny time!