I clipped the tip of my newborn baby’s finger as I battled her tiny, spastic fingernails. Let the looks of betrayal begin, one of many to come. Ten months later, she tumbled down the last stair in our home. I remember her slowly tipping as if she were a professional diver crashing head-first, not into a pool, but our hardwood floor. The worst was around 2 years old when we played chase and she ran right into the corner of the wall. A vicious bruise appeared on her perfectly pink cheek in mere minutes.
Benson is still young, so I haven’t been able to inflict too much damage. A scarlet “F” was already emblazed on my shirt, but with Benson it’s now melted in my flesh, after I neglected to buckle him in right after he was born. The look of disgust on Brian’s face when he went to pull the car seat out only to find I hadn’t hooked it properly. So, yeah — there’s a fat “F” for failure stitched on my stained T-shirt.
On Saturday our family decided to hit up Boondocks for a little family fun — greasy food, video games, crowds and bowling. What’s not to love about this sport? Rented shoes worn by Big Bubba just an hour before, scientific proof that you're sticking your fingers in the dirtiest place on Earth, and slinging a 10-pound ball while monotonously watching others do the same — I repeat, what’s not to love?
Moments after lacing my magic shoes, I look up to see Scarlett attempting to haul around a ball she and her dad selected. I immediately started to screech about her only being 3, making sure Brian was right with her as she carried the ball around, modeling how to hover a hand underneath, serving as a net between her precious foot and this massive piece of hot-pink urethane. Never mind my 170-pound rear was high in the air as I hunched over, hands moving as if juggling a hot plate of nachos -- this is motherhood at its best.
Hindsight is 20-20. I probably should have nixed the whole carrying-the-ball thing from the start, but I’ve grown fond of my scarlet letter.
After playing cheerleader from the sidelines for about five frames, I decided to re-energize with the source of all power, Diet Coke. Benson and I headed over to concessions; within minutes a man came charging up to the counter demanding a bag of ice. It didn’t even cross my mind this ice was for my tiny daughter’s toes.
Scarlett dropped a 5-pound bowling ball on her foot. Scarlett dropped the ball on her foot while Brian was playing Spielberg instead of hovering, butt in air, like I coached.
Have you ever seen a lion attack on the savannah? Have you ever seen the gazelle attempt to flee just as the lion pounces, aiming for jugular? Brian -- gazelle, me -- lion. I bared my teeth as if transported to Africa when I glimpsed his heartbroken face, flaming red, and full of fear only prey can have. He didn’t need me to say a word; he was well-aware of his mistake.
It was then I remembered the clipped fingertip, the stairs, the bruise on her cheek, and Brian not attacking when he realized I hadn’t properly strapped his newborn inside the car. Imagine having your worst parenting moment caught on tape; a video your wife or husband can watch over and over again.
Before you pick up the phone to call family services, Scarlett is fine. She finished the game (Brian hovered) and she doesn’t even look at her father with shame. I, on the other hand, started to stitch an “F” on his shirt. It’s only fair.