Toeing the Line

Bloggified by Jake on Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Transcript of an actual conversation between my six-year-old daughter and myself:
Father: Your brother and I are going to check the mail. (Our neighborhood has one of those community mail boxes on the corner where everyone receives their mail)
Daughter: Okay, I'm going to stay here and pretend to make cookies.
Father: Whatever. Have fun.
Daughter: So you trust me to take care of myself while you're gone?
Father: Yeah, is there any reason I should think you're going to do anything in two minutes?

One minute and 17 seconds later, while walking back from the mailbox I hear a little girl screaming in horror. I can't be certain, but I'm even pretty sure it sounds like my daughter and she's yelling, "Dad!" But that's ridiculous, I've been gone less than two minutes. What could have possibly happened in less time than it takes for a commercial break on a baseball game?

I sweep up my son under my arm like Joseph Addai heading for the end zone and dart across the street. From a house away, I see her bolt out of the house, more frightened than I've ever seen her in her entire life. My first and second thought come almost simultaneously.

Either the dog ran out the door chasing a cat and got hit by a car or a escaped psychopathic killer in clown make-up is in the house.

I look at the street, but there's no dead dog... and all my psychokiller-in-clown-make-up-fending-off baseball bats are in the house!

As I get close, she's shrieking, but I can't understand what she's trying to say. She's hopping on one foot, holding up the other so I can see her blood-soaked toe.

"What happened?" I blurt out.

"I... I dropped a bowling ball on my toe!" she sobs.

I have a bowling ball... though I don't know why. It was my sister's from when she and her ex-husband joined a bowling league back when they lived in Elgin, Illinois eight years ago. When she moved back to Arizona, she asked if I wanted it. I didn't, but some part of my brain registered, "Hey... free bowling ball!" and the next thing I knew it was mine. It has sat in the back of three different closets in three different homes, never to be used in the last six years.

Somehow, in the less-than-90 seconds that I was gone, she got bored making pretend cookies, decided to dig around in the bottom of the hall closet, moved aside all the spare Easter baskets and Halloween candy buckets, discovered a bowling ball, dragged it out, picked it up, and dropped it on her toe.

At that point, her short term memory disappeared and she had no idea where I was. So in an attempt to find me, she ran all over the house, leaving a trail of bloody toe prints, like a macabre Family Circus strip.

Unbeknownst to any of us, her mother arrived home about this moment and was getting out of her car in the garage when she heard the screaming. She came in the door from the laundry room, heard Taryn screaming in the back of the house, and headed toward our bedroom. By then, however, Taryn had run back toward the front of the house through the kitchen and the living room and out the front door.

Carrying her back into the house, I nearly collide with Theresa... whom I can only assume at that point is the psychokiller my brain is still programed to be alert for. I started to drop my shoulder and bulldoze her into a wall, but stop short as my mind interprets her presence as a non-threat. It was kind of like the way the Terminator sees things.

Anyway, the nail on her big toe is hanging on by about a quarter inch of skin, but nothing is broken. After about two hours of pouting, she's pretty much back to normal, though she gets upset every time she realizes someone might see her "bald toe."

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