Szyperski: Sea-Monkeys and armless wondersWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
One night when I was quite little my family was doing some laundry at a laundromat. I was granted a rare and thrilling trip to the laundromat vending machines, where I carefully selected Sea-Monkeys as my momentary childhood Holy Grail. Sea-Monkeys are souped up, well-marketed-to-children brine shrimp that transform from seemingly lifeless eggs into live sea creatures right before one’s very eyes.
As I recall, the packet I received out of the machine contained a powdery substance of some sort. While my head said, “living creature not for human consumption” my heart must have said, “hmm, looks like Fun Dip,” because the next thing I know I had eaten some of my newly-acquired sea pets. I remember almost instantly shifting from enjoying my Sea-Monkeys delicacy to picturing the fascinating little creatures swimming ominously around in my stomach. As soon as I was able to summon the courage, I quickly revealed my childish idiocy to my parents. I assume there was no real harm in my foolishness, as the story ended there as far as I can tell (as opposed to in the nearest emergency room).
A memory that is still capable of serving up early childhood fare is a great gift when it comes to writing fodder. However, it is somewhat unwelcome when it comes to raising children. I can recall many of my own ridiculous mistakes and general senseless acts of childhood in decent detail, which tends to plague my mind on a daily basis. I can’t help but watch my children grow through a lens called “WWIHDATA” or “What Would I Have Done at Their Age?” My childhood disaster-preventing device is fairly effective, but even it fails to protect my children on occasion.
While stopping into a store to briefly shop for some overdue girls’ summer sandals, I saw my six-and-a-half-year-old (the half is her insistence) begin to fall in my peripheral vision. She was kneeling on a bench maybe two feet off of the ground when she started to lose her balance. Before I could quite process what was happening, I watched my beautiful, perfect daughter, Laney, smash face first into a thin layer of carpeting over what I can only assume was a thick layer of concrete.
A little confused as to why she wasn’t able to catch herself, the reason became abundantly clear as soon as I pulled her to her feet. As I attempted to block out her horrific screaming and crying, I caught my first glimpse of what had gone terribly wrong. Just like I had done myself many a time as a child, Laney had tucked both of her arms into the confines of her T-shirt … thus throwing her balance off … thus rendering her incapable of stopping her face from hitting the floor.
Seconds after the waterworks came the bloodbath. Out the nose, out the mouth, down the throat. Gross.
Thankfully, an assistant manager and mother of five angel-of-the-moment quickly swooped in to take control of the situation. She assessed Laney’s injuries, worked to stop the bleeding, sent for ice and filled out an incident report as I concentrated on not passing out. I eventually kicked it into gear and managed to hold it together all by myself a couple of hours later when Laney vomited all over the back seat of our van on the way home from the doctor’s office. Just when you think there is nothing funny about bloody noses, loosened teeth and concussion scares, Laney declared, “If I knew it would make me throw up I would have spit the blood out instead of swallowing it.” Uh huh, I see.
Who knew that it’s not a natural inclination to spit blood out instead of swallowing it? Who knew that a six-and-a-half-year-old might not be able to stop herself from a 2-foot fall? I should have known because I once ate Sea-Monkeys at the laundromat.
At least as a parent you kind of get used to the sudden, didn’t-see-it-coming drama. Aside from $80 worth of popsicles and a pediatrician’s time, an afternoon from hell, a canceled date night and a really bad memory, there was no real harm in Laney’s childhood foolishness. When you have your first kid you might rush to the ER but after three kids and an ER frequent buyer card, you at least have the luxury of taking a few minutes to stay and purchase the sandals you came in for.
Shannon and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at email@example.com.