No adult was present when he was pushed. He was just playing with boys. A kind of playing that always looks like tigers clawing. I cannot get involved, lest my eyes be gouged. Then, suddenly, the same boys sit quietly looking at the Star Wars Encyclopedia. Suddenly, they are cozy, tigers transformed into house cats. Sometimes it seems that all boys are brothers, provoking determination, starting holy wars.
When he was pushed, he screamed. A noise familiar to me, a simultaneous ache and annoyance. Yet I am the mother. I always look.
I saw blood first. Blood from his lip, pouring. Blood on his teeth. “What’s wrong?” I said. Meaning, what happened? Meaning, I love you I love you I love you and I don’t know what to do.
Then a tissue. A hug. Still, screaming, and after minutes alone in a bathroom, still screaming. “My armpit hurts. I can’t move my armpit!”
Then six hours in the ER. X-ray after x-ray showed nothing. I tried to sleep, but it was 2 a.m. in a hospital with a crying boy on my lap. Then it was 3 a.m. Still nothing found. A splint. A drive home. A few hours. A few days.
This boy is three. The movement of his thought is visible. Sadness. Joy. Sadness. Joy. His mind turns and learns, discovers. As a mouse, he can be gobbled by the smallest of house cats. As a mouse, he finds the tiniest entrance, nibbles at anything left uncovered.
In the ER, he wouldn’t walk. Wouldn’t smile. Wouldn’t do anything but sit in my lap and nibble Cheddar Lay’s. When we moved, he said, “Carry me. Walk slowly.” And we did, the night playing in my head.
He was pushed. I wasn’t there. Blood. Doctors. Splint.
Carry me. Walk slowly.
Sara Dutilly is a stay-at-home mom to three children under the age of six. She writes, reads and homeschools, and she bakes sourdough bread more often than she cleans toilets. She has been published in Mother’s Always Write and r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly Journal, and her short story “Nine Months of Peanut Butter” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She blogs at www.haikuthedayaway.com because, as you’ll see displayed on her blog’s homepage, she believes that motherhood is, above all else, poetic.