Some things you wait a long time for, and you have years and years to mentally prepare for them to happen. Other things happen in an instant, with no warning, and you have to act in the moment on instinct. I recently had both of these experiences within two days of each other.
THURSDAY – AUGUST 19TH
My son started Kindergarten on a Thursday. 5 years ago when he was born, I knew that one day I would be dropping him off for his first day of school. But it seemed so far away. (And it was!) But as he turned 2, and then 3, it started hitting me that it was coming faster than I thought it would. When people asked me where he was going to go to school, I always just kind of shrugged my shoulders and said he’d probably go to the public school nearest us. I wasn’t really ready to wrap my mind around it yet.
Once he was 4, I admitted I really needed to begin thinking about it seriously. Did I want him to go to public school or private school? I work for a private Christian university, and they also have a K-12 private school that I could get a large discount at if I sent him there.
My husband and I both went to public schools, so it seemed like a logical decision to have Calvin go to public school as well. And the public school near us was said to be one of the best elementary schools in Abilene. I hadn’t heard anything negative about it (except for the drop-off and pick-up lines!)
I weighed the pros and cons of public vs. private school. I thought about class size, curriculum, teachers, demographics, and location. Ultimately, we decided that public school was going to be the right choice for our son and our family.
My son has a summer birthday (late June), so people also began asking me if I planned to hold him back a year before sending him on to Kindergarten. I didn’t see a reason to do it unless his Pre-K teachers felt like he was really struggling or that he seemed to lack certain skills needed for Kindergarten. Since they didn’t, we were ready to send him on. Would he be one of the youngest in his class? Yes – but that is okay. I knew moving Calvin forward would be the best thing for him. He was ready to learn and go to school.
Thursday morning arrived: the first day of school. A moment that had seemed so far off when my son was born, and yet here we were. I had played out this scenario many times in my head. Would Calvin cry? (He did not.) Would I? (Yes indeed.) Would he like his teacher? Would he make friends in his new class?
The transition to Kindergarten felt like a big milestone. Before having a child of my own, I had always kind of rolled my eyes at things like preschool or Kindergarten graduation ceremonies. I didn’t understand why “every grade” (an exaggeration on my part) needed to have their own celebration or festivities. Well, the reason is (I have now learned) because they are actually a big deal. When Calvin dressed up in his graduation cap and outfit for Pre-K, and his class put on a little program of songs for all the parents, I got emotional. And I was so proud of him.
Going to Kindergarten is a big deal. And the moment I knew was coming one day, had finally arrived.
SATURDAY – AUGUST 21ST
Two days later, something happened to me that I could never have imagined would even be possible. I guess if I had thought about it, I could have determined that it would technically be possible, like by the laws of physics, but the chances of it actually happening had to be miniscule.
Saturday morning my family and I decided to go out for breakfast around 9 or 9:30am. We decided to try Panera. We had only been there for lunch, and Dean had just signed up for their monthly coffee subscription ($9.00 per month for daily coffee.) I ordered a pumpkin muffin and a vanilla latte, and Calvin decided that the brownies looked the most appetizing for breakfast, along with chocolate milk. It was a pleasant morning, so we decided to eat outside at one of the patio tables. We picked the table nearest to the door and sat down under the green umbrella in our metal chairs. As we ate our food and drank our coffee, we watched people go through the drive-thru lane, and talked about perhaps going to look in some of the nearby stores in the shopping center.
I wanted to go to Academy – I needed to return a workout outfit I had purchased that had ended up being too small, and I wanted to look at their bicycles (since Calvin had recently gotten a bike, Dean and I had been thinking we should get bikes to ride together as a family.)
We also decided to call Dean’s mom, so Calvin could tell her how the first two days of Kindergarten had gone. She had just been in Abilene with us for a week or so to watch Calvin while he was out of daycare, but not in school yet (since Mom and Dad needed to go to work!) We had finished our food, or at least what we wanted of it, and were just about ready to leave, when the wind blew so hard it literally picked up the patio table umbrella from the middle of the table (so high that the pole came all the way out of the table). It was heavy, so it didn’t stay up in the air long. Instead the top-heavy umbrella swung down and the edge of it hit me on the side of my head.
It took less than a second for all of this to occur. Everyone was surprised, but I knew I was hurt – I just didn’t know how badly. I thought I would probably have a large bump on my head from where the umbrella got me, and I reached up to feel my head. As I brought my fingers back, I saw blood on them. I took the palm of my hand and touched my head again. It was covered in blood.
“I’m bleeding,” I said to Dean. He told his mom he’d have to call her back, and we quickly determined that I was going to need to go to the hospital. Blood was dripping down the side of my head, and had already dripped down my arm and onto the ground. Dean handed me the stack of Panera napkins we hadn’t used, and I held it against my head. In a few moments they were soaked through.
I waited to see if I was going to feel faint or black out, thankfully I didn’t. As Dean and Calvin went inside to tell the workers what happened, a man pulled through the drive-thru. He did a double-take when he saw me (at this point I’m standing alone with napkins held to my head, blood dripping to the ground) and he asked me if I was okay. Even then I found it a bit humorous, I’m sure that was the last sight he expected to see as he got his morning coffee.
Dean and Calvin came back outside with three Panera workers, and the look of shock on all their faces was identical. “Do you need us to call you an ambulance?”
Since I wasn’t feeling faint, and Dean could drive me, I really didn’t want to wait for an ambulance to come. (I also didn’t want to have to pay for an ambulance either!) We declined and headed out to the nearest emergency room.
I didn’t have to wait long in the waiting room. I guess when you have blood all over your head they move you up to the front of the line. They checked to see if I had a concussion, wanted to make sure I was coherent (they kept asking me what my name was, my address, etc.), and then attempted to find where the blood was coming from.
What they found was a big laceration that started near the top of my head and curved down ending above my right ear. The doctor said it was kind of shaped like a question mark. “So it kind of just grazed the side of your head,” he said.
That’s a lot of blood for a graze, I thought – but I did know head wounds were supposed to bleed a lot, and I can now confirm from personal experience that they indeed do!
After getting 11 staples in my head, I was decently all held together again. I wasn’t allowed to wash the wound for 24 hours, which meant I had to leave all the dried blood in my hair until the following day. I was told to take Tylenol for pain if needed, and surprisingly I only took it once or twice after the whole ordeal. Twice a day I asked Dean to put Neosporin onto the wound as best he could (some of my hair was stapled down to my head, so it was a bit tricky.)
I’m not sure what the exact odds are of this happening to a person (being attacked by a patio table umbrella), but I just couldn’t believe how many things had to be exactly in place for it to happen. If we had just been sitting at any other table outside, it wouldn’t have happened. If we hadn’t stayed long and called Dean’s mom, we would have left the table a few minutes earlier, and it wouldn’t have happened. If we had gone to any other restaurant, or even the same restaurant at a slightly different time, it wouldn’t have happened. If the umbrella had been secured to the table like it was supposed to have been, it also wouldn’t have happened.
Those kind of thoughts can start to get discouraging, and lead to “why did this have to happen?” thinking. But, I also started to think about how much worse it could have been, and how lucky we really were. The umbrella could have hit me directly in the middle of the head instead of grazing off the side. It didn’t. If Calvin and I had been sitting in opposite spots at the table, the umbrella would have hit him instead of me. It didn’t. I could have passed out from loss of blood, had a concussion, or lost an eye if it had hit me a few inches lower on my face – it didn’t.
So ultimately, I feel thankful.
I prefer the expected and planned out moments, but life cannot just consist of those. I’m learning to take the surprises in stride, both the good and the bad. And many times good things comes from the bad (at least in my experience.)