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July 07, 2007

24 hours, 8 stitches, 1 really stressed mommy

We are alive and well and living in Spain for a month. Sounds really good doesn’t it? It will be. I know it will be. It has to be. This is the trip we’ve planned for a year – the first time my husband has ever been able to be away for this long – ever.  But the first 24 hours have been a sun-drenched, perfect weather, fabulous food nightmare.

We arrived at midnight at the villa in Marbella we rented after a long flight with three tired little troupers (having arrived with one less suitcase than when we departed but that’s too minor to dwell on).  Get the main scoop on the household, you know, keys, how to work the dishwasher, alarm, garage, etc. Oh, let’s not forget the pool cover and sheesh this place has a trampoline. So far we’re tracking for an excellent, hard-earned fun-filled break from the treadmill pace we left back in Palo Alto.  Off to sleep.

Up at 9 a.m. – kids eat a quick breakfast,all excited. Swimsuits on; dash out to pool. Me not even having coffee yet, but busy blowing up raft, adjusting goggles. My husband chasing down youngest to slather on sunscreen and then I have a seat on the lawn chair as hubby goes to figure out how to make coffee.

And then I see it. It wasn’t even an unsupervised “hey that didn’t happen on my watch” kinda moment. Zach, 8, sneaks up on his sister Zoe (age 6 and doing a little dance at the side of the pool) and shove. He didn’t mean to hurt her, he was just playing around but she was caught off guard, tried to turn to catch herself and BAM! I heard it, saw it, but it still didn’t register that that sound came from my child’s head – her chin specifically – whacking on the edge of the pool. I yell at Zach that he’s out of the pool for the day for that even before she surfaces. She climbs out crying (and I thought that was a good sign) but by the time I reach her she is covered in blood from a jagged gash just under her chin …

By 10 a.m., we’ve figured out where the hospital is (just one exit down!!!) have been in emergency ward using my Spanglish and my fortunately, fairly fluent son as helpful (and remorseful) interpreter. We’ve stopped the bleeding and begin our nearly 4-hour adventure there. Actually, along with beautiful weather, great food, and seemingly endless daylight, the medical care wasn’t half bad. No one wanted us to pay for anything either – must figure that one out later.

My precious little daughter endured 5 hard pokes with a needle full of anesthetic followed by 8 stiches as she screamed for a while and then just settled into a heart-tearing whimper, one medic holding her head down while another one cooed to her in Spanish while sewing her up. I held her two tiny hands in one of mine, stroking her chest and tummy with my other trying to smile at her and keep eye contact without  sharing her tears (This is a first for me - I've never seen someone needle-and-thread human skin - deep breath. A bit of a wuss I think I am, but I'm sure it's worse to watch because I can't do anything to make it all go away just now for her.)

So now she’s literally a fish out of water for the next week with stitches so we will be off for a sidetrip tomorrow instead of having tons of down time at the pool as  my husband and I had selfishly planned to do for a day or two just to catch up with life and each other.

Later as I’m holding her in my lap later that evening thinking in my head what do do/say to Zach, how to make an impact on him about the unsafe play at the pool – Zoe turns to me and says, “Mommy, I don’t want you to punish Zachary by making him stay out of the pool. He was really sorry and cried for me and told me he loves me. That’s OK by me.”  Then that’s good enough for me, too. It’s hard to administer punishment in paradise, anyway.

So, instead of punishment, we celebrate. At 11 p.m. we find a little wooden place on the beach that serves up Cuban food (have to go to Spain for this?) with excellent mojitos and fresh fish. The Zoe and her little sister dance around, albeit cautiously, on the makeshift  wooden dance floor while Zach piles white sand between his toes on the edge of the floor.

Surely the next 24 hours will bring a different set of experiences for us to savor? Por favor.