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July 12, 2007

Feeling safe, taking risks, falling “up” the stairs

Pamela_weissI blogged too soon.

Just a few days ago, we ended a nightmarish 24 hours after arriving  in Marbella, Spain, only to spend half the day in the emergency room with my 6-year-old daughter getting stitches on her delicate little chin.  My family of five took a collective deep breath. Tomorrow, would be a better, a new day, we’ll start over. After all we have a whole month here to vacation and relax and get re-connected.

Now, I’m not so sure we’ll survive a whole month.

I swear any minute now the Spanish authorities are coming to take my children from me – only they could never find this villa with no address and up a windy road that we have to back up and turnaround on each day ‘cause we took a wrong turn.

On this morning we changed Zoe’s bandage and headed off to the beautiful, historic city of Ronda. Through swirling mountain roads and over bridges of uncertain competence, the long drive brought a sense of calm to the chaotic start to our coming here to live for a month.

We explored the tapas bars, walked the historic town where one of the first bridges of astounding human effort was constructed to bring two parts of a town together across and endlessly deep ravine.  A treacherous undertaking for any day, but this was completed in the 1700’s. While soaking all this in and getting used to using my new Nikon camera (probably the most thoughtful gift my hubby has ever given me for my birthday since my first one went missing a year ago) I was well into the moment clicking away and hadn’t notice that into the scenery I was shooting climbed my recently injured daughter up to the ledge. Note: The concept of safety –  helmets on children or guard rails along gorge edges where tourists walk daily – isn’t quite up to what we are used to back in the States.

So I hear a little “wh-wh-ooa” as Zoe with stitched and bandaged chin wobbles and nearly topples over – I, umm, what’s the word – shrieked like a banshee for her to get down     – and scared the pee out of her and me both. Only to look up to see my husband non-chalantly observing it all. Was I overreacting, maybe a little. Was he under-reacting? A lot I’d say. No damage done nor daughter lost down into the abyss of stone and earth. Nothing altered but my sanity and heartrate.

To wrap of the visit we bought the girls’ cheap little flamenco dresses off a street vendor, my son a fan (yes the kind the ladies cool themselves off with but that’s what he wanted to go with his, er, castinettes) and headed for home. We arrived late at our place, the girls climbed into their dresses and headed to the backyard to practice their dance for their cousins coming next week. Sun is setting (albeit at about 10:30 p.m.). My son is having the best time helping me cook, making giant “faces” out of vegetables, hardboiled eggs and olives on the dinner plates  while my husband grills some wonderful local salmon just outside on the deck  - with one eye on the salmon, the other on the girls flinging themselves to and fro with a funky new version of the flamenco. I take a sip of wine and a deep breath…maybe we’ve turned a corner.

The next thing I know Scott is running up the stairs with my younger daughter – the previously uninjured one – in his arms and he’s yelling at me to look her over quickly – that he scooped her up off the ground from the botton of a flight of jagged, stone stairs at the back of the property. As Zoe reports it, Zeta was spinning around and flung herself backward down the steps hitting first her back, then the back of her head, then flipping mid air and landing on her face while her  forehead, from the looks of it , striking the bottom step. Extremely articulate description from a 6 year old I know. She followed that with: “Mom, I couldn’t take my eyes off her it looked like she was flying.”

Sprawled on the couch in the kitchen, salmon burning on the grill and my tears mixing with my sunscreen and burning my eyes, she is remarkably composed. She is coherent, didn’t lose consciousness, but has a huge, egg-sized bulge on her forehead with slightly broken skin and one at the back of her head – very little blood and no sore bones.

We keep her pediatrician on the phone for over a half hour and keep Zeta up every 4 hours for the next 12 hours to make sure she is OK. In between kisses, ice bags and eventually giggles, she tells us – “Mom I tripped and fell up the stairs.” She’s just turned 5 and her bilingual vocabulary makes us all smile usually, but this night with her sense of humor and her physical self intact  - it makes us all very grateful.

So, one daughter with a large bandage on her chin, the other with one on her forehead and my poor, nervous 8 year old son acting so cautious like he’s next.

The next day I know I’m still not right with the world; I am shell-shocked and exhibiting a little ridiculous behavior as I totally panic nearly to the point of tears when my husband merely swims out so far in the ocean that I lose sight of him for about 10 minutes.  I don’t know how much more of all this R&R I can take. The sangria is helping. A lot. Not a lot of help, but a lot of sangria.

I’m also finally reading a book I’ve been carrying around for months with me but never cracked. I got it on the advice of my daughter’s preschool director. It’s called Mitten Strings for God. Ever read it? It is keeping me hanging onto that thread of rational thought that tells me the reason they are flinging themselves freely, taking risks, pushing themselves and their bodies (in water, on rocks and in the air on the trampoline!!) is that, ironically they feel safer this month than they’ve ever felt – with two (mostly) relaxed parents focused on them 24-hours a day doing all the ordinary things we usually rarely get to do together and just filling hours and hours of down time – uninterrupted by playdates, parental distractions, babysitters, or an agenda.

I’ll have to think about that a while; maybe between now and the next injury.

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