Three days into summer vacation, and we were off to a glorious start. There is a freedom associated with summer that is beyond compare. Dare I say we actually get windows of flexibility despite still being somewhat scheduled? Day one and my son was celebrating both the freedom of flexible mornings and nudity. The first full day of summer he exclaimed, “I just love still being in my underwear at eleven in the morning!” It didn’t take him long to start living the summer dream. He also entertains with a nightly streak across the living room after his shower, but, in all honesty, that is not just a summer happening. The only plan he has for summer is to grow out his bangs for our visit to the beach. When I asked him why, he said he needed to do a neck whip when he came out of the water, like all surfers do. I guess it is important to have goals. I would be more judgmental of his aspirations if my hope of finding the best frosé recipe by the end of June weren’t my current focus. Bangs are temporary, but a good frosé will bring joyful summers for years to come.
While my boy is living the underwear-until-noon dream and growing out his bangs, it is the girls in the summerhouse who aren’t off to a great start. My daughter’s birthday typically falls right around the last day of school. Our joke is her birthday gift is summer. Despite having a party with friends the weekend before her actual birthday, she and I planned for a quiet but fun “true” birthday weekend with a few good meals out, some cake, and a little shopping. That plan came to a screeching halt when she began coughing the day before her birthday in a way that was hauntingly familiar. Childhood asthma was suddenly back after disappearing for several years. I no longer keep an inhaler on hand, and shame on me. Her birthday weekend consisted of two trips to urgent care and four medications to get things under control. Neither of us slept, and neither of us had a bit of birthday fun.
Twenty-four hours after the right medications were prescribed, things started to level off a bit. It was time for a short outing and a much needed change of scenery. I needed to make a quick run to PetSmart for prescription dog food – don’t ask – and we needed to pick out the chair I promised I would buy for her birthday. With the furniture shopping complete, we headed to PetSmart assuming it would be uneventful. We were quite a sight, with neither of us wearing makeup or fixing our hair, and she was as white as a ghost from her medical ordeal. We had no intention of drawing attention to ourselves during our quick errand.
As we entered PetSmart, my daughter asked if she could see the cats that were up for adoption. I knew right where they would be, and I suggested we take a shortcut through the aquarium section. As we walked down the aisle, she pointed to a funny looking aquarium accessory. It looked like a soft, flexible sea anemone. I commented that it reminded me of the movie Nemo, and that I loved that it was bright pink. Assuming it was as soft and squishy as it looked, she picked it up to admire it. Without warning, she said, “Ha!” and threw it at me. It hit me just under the eye, and I knew immediately this was not a squishy sea anemone. In order for this piece to stay put at the bottom of an aquarium, it had to be weighed down. Buried in the center was a rock hidden as a base, and it had been thrown with force directly at my face because, well, teens don’t think before acting.
I immediately fell to my knees holding my face, exclaiming in pain to my daughter that there was a rock in her projectile object. She rushed to me and hugged me tight as I covered the wound. I quickly noticed blood on my hand. We looked at one another in horror, and, despite my pain, we began laughing. The whole weekend had been birthday suck fest 2017, and we hadn’t laughed the entire time until that very moment. Unfortunately for her, she was still barely able to speak without her asthmatic cough, and all the laughing sent her into distress. She began gasping, yet she couldn’t control the laughter. I begged her to stop laughing because we did not have her inhaler. About this time, the manager walked over to ask if things were okay. I replied, “My daughter has assaulted me with an aquarium accessory, and I am bleeding. Could you tell me where I might find a bathroom?” (So much for not drawing attention to ourselves.)
The manager escorted us to the back of the store, where my daughter lovingly kept her hand on my back and tried to muffle her asthma and laughter. When I opened the door to the only restroom, I knew this was not the place for a medical exam. This was a germ-laden petri dish disguised in tile and porcelain. This was not the place for open wound care. I stayed long enough to see the swelling and small amount of bleeding under my eye and reassure myself that medical attention would be needed for nothing other than the infection I might acquire from simply entering that bathroom.
We did not make a graceful exit from PetSmart. The manager waited for us at checkout and joked that they could call the police for assault cases. I assured her it would not be necessary, as the blood continued to slowly flow from my face. As we settled into the car, I looked at my daughter as I held my eye and said, “Really?” While we drove home in silence, except for the occasional giggle and wheeze, I had three thoughts. First, never throw aquarium accessories of any kind. Second, whenever possible, just stay home and lounge in your underwear. And third, perhaps applying a plastic baggie filled with frosé might help with the swelling. And if it didn’t, I could just drink it.
Current score? Summer 2017: one. Summer Lorissa: zero. Summer, I am coming after you.
*Four days post injury.
**Photos by petsmart.com and browardpalmbeach.com