He’s learning the hard way how silly it was to skip two rungs at a time on the monkey bars.
Sam, that is. The little arm up there you see is the left – his dominant – arm of my son, Sam. Sam, you see, is the muscle-bound, six pack abs carrying, athletic kid that seemingly wouldn’t fit into my gene pool. I couldn’t do the monkey bars – and his brother Noah, who’s built similar to the way I was as a kid, can’t either. Sam, however, flits from one side of the bars to the other like a gnat moving from a bunch of bananas to a bowl of grapes in your house. No effort whatsoever and so quick you wonder how it got there.
But last Thursday he decided just moving from one side to the other was no big deal and should be able to skip one. That worked. Skip two? Not so much.
Now we’re in the middle of the first week of having a cast and last night we had to do his first shower . . . something I’d been avoiding. Noah went first, complaining there was a spider in the bathtub and refusing to kill it. I walked up, re-aimed the showerhead and there was the spider, washing down the drain.
When it was time for Sam, I had a garbage bag and gorilla tape. Yes. Gorilla tape. We’d already had a broken arm I wasn’t going to deal with re-casting his arm. So I tied the bag with the bright orange strings coming off the top of the bag. Then, with all my might, taped the top to his skin. He hated it.
I hadn’t thought how hard it would be to try and not only wash your hair and body without a second arm but also to do it with the arm you ususally don’t use for washing, eating, writing, none of it. Poor kid was up there forever. After it was over I went up and dried him off, knowing full well he’d never ask for help. After all, he’d already gone more than a day without telling me his arm hurt that badly so I wasn’t going to wait. The mistake I made? Gorilla tape. It was like I’d super glued the damn bag to his arm.
Here I was, a half-hour late to get them to bed and was just then standing with a pair of kindergarten scissors – because my children have managed to scuffle away the real scissors in corners unknown of our home – and trying to take off tape that I should have known in the beginning was too strong for the designated job. As I made the first cut Sam goes “ouch!” and I felt awful. “Ouch!” again, and I felt worse. Then, as I’m approaching the tape with the dull-edged utensil he goes “OUCH!” and the scissors are hovering inches above the tape.
I stopped down and looked at him and he smiled – ear to ear – and giggled. I jokingly smacked him in the back of the head and then ripped the remaining tape off his arm. “Ow, that actually did hurt,” he says and I simply give him a look that says “serves you right,” and he gives me a Stan Laurel smile and says “sorry.”
I made a snack before bed and he came down, pajamas on, hair wet, and says “hey dad, the inside of my cast is wet.”
I was flabbergasted. My heartbeat skipped, my brain swirled. How the hell could tape that glues like molten iron and solder let water in? I raced over to the staircase shouting “what?!” I felt the cast and it seemed dry.
“It’s sweat,” I heard from the living room.
“It’s sweat,” says Abbi, chuckling while on the couch watching TV.
I realized she was right. Sam had spent more time than normal in a humid room with his hand tied in a plastic bag with no ventilation. His arm was sweating and the gauze under the cast was damp from sweat. The cast itself was fine.
I looked at Sam and he chuckled again.
I smacked him lightly in the back of the head and said “get in there and eat your midnight snack.”
“Hey Dad,” he says looking at me. “I can’t do recess while I have my cast on. The school’s worried I might hurt my arm again . . . ”
“Or hurt another kid with your hard cast, right?”
“Umm . . . yeah. That, and I think they don’t want me trying the monkey bars again.”
I’d be mad at him, if he wasn’t so damn clever.