I actually texted P.S. Mckay this morning and attempted to get out of having to fulfill my Finger Food obligation this morning. Not sure what my problem was but I know that I desperately lacking inspiration, or maybe motivation is a more appropriate term. Normally I have ideas weeks out and often am already done before the due date rolls around but this time I felt my creative juices suffocating for some reason.
McKay was helpful, he really was. He tried to pump me up and even offered a few ideas for me to steal. We went back and forth and I am sure I said something like, “hummmm,” or maybe, “ah, that’s an idea.” But really nothing sparked any awesomeness, nothing really made me feel like writing. I thought about doing it on football; Nope. I toyed with the idea of getting into some election nonsense; oh hell no. I thought about boldly going where no man has gone before; Nope that won’t work, McKay goes there all the time. I thought about Football again because heck, it’s Sunday; Still nope. I watched my dog dig in the mud a move sticks around the yard and…. Um, no way, boring! I almost threw in the towel and put this week on rain delay, I mean, it’s raining somewhere, right?
Tonight my family and I spent stopped for Pupusas which was actually kind of a cluster. I mean the food was GLORIOUS but there was a wait and the one human who spoke English seemed to be out for the night. Communication was a mess but who cares because the food was on point. Please feel free to briefly click away to look up where to order a Pupusa if necessary. So we are on the way home, the six of us, and it’s been a pretty good day. My wife and kids saw the movie Trolls on Friday because of the holiday and we were rocking through the entire soundtrack. It wasn’t a long car ride but we started with the “Sound of Silence” and then continued onto “True Colors.” The kids love it and keep asking for us to play, and replay “True Colors”. For those of you who are not familiar, Trolls is a new movie release but has a lot of great music and this version of True Colors was performed by Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick.
If you listen to our show, then you definitely don’t need to be reminded that Cyndi Lauper originally released it in 1986 and it was later covered in 1998 by Phil Collins. Fun fact, remember Babyface? Kenneth “Babyface” Edmunds? Well he actually produced the song for Collins and even played keyboard and provided background vocals on the studio recording.
So there we are driving down the street, heading home, with the Trolls version of True Colors playing over and over and over as we roll up on our house to find a half-naked man walking in the middle of the road. Yep half-naked and before you get too excited let me tell you that it was the top half which was naked. So after some effort I am able to navigate around the guy to get into my driveway and as I pull in a lot is going through my head. To get started this type of thing isn’t super common in my neighborhood. I mean, it was warmer today but dudes walking up and down the street without a shirt talking on their cell phone isn’t something we get to see out in front of the house often. Downtown, yeah for sure, but at 7:30 on a Sunday night in my driveway? Not so much.
Due to the irregularity of the moment I elected to get out of the car 1st and take a walk around the car just to make sure there wasn’t anything funky happening. As I disembarked from the minivan I noticed my eldest trying to be part of the action and without explanation pushed him back into the car. By the way this totally pissed him off. So I take my walk around the car and notice the shirtless man walking back down the street and realized that all aspects of funkiness can be ruled out. I head inside with my wife and kids and we all sit down at the table to enjoy the aforementioned Pupusas. I was starving and started to dig in when my wife looked at me and said, “did you just use the last paper towel?”
With my mouth full I managed to mumble, “um, yeah, but.”
She wasn’t impressed, not even a bit and she said, “Fine, I’ll handle it,” in what I will officially refer to as a friendly tone as she headed out into the garage to grab a replacement roll.
The kids and I took turns passing the salsa around grabbing handfuls of chips and as my wife walked back into the kitchen she said, “So… I just heard a noise that sounded like a person getting hit by a car and loud screeches.”
Immediately my mind went to the shirtless half-naked man walking up and down the street outside and I bolted to the front door and out into the yard. Before I made it to the end of the driveway I saw the man lying in the middle of the road and two things went through my head. The first was super reasonable and the second was, HOLY CRAP! I elected not to use quotes there and I am sure you can understand why. The other thing was I need a land line to call 9-1-1 because if I use the cell phone in my pocket I am going to end up talking to someone in dispatch like 2 states away who has no idea where I am, and where to send the ambulance.
I ran, yes ran, back into the house and attempted to find the cordless telephone attached to the land line which hasn’t been used for anything in the past several years. Well that isn’t true. We get about 2-5 calls a week from Solar companies, in the past month we received 10 calls a day from political campaigns, about 3 calls a week to do “quick” surveys, and, oh, we get a ton of calls that our computer as a virus. So you can see that we use the phone but not really enough to have confidence in its location. One would expect it would be charging on the base, and…. Nope, not there. After some frantic debate the phone was located and I rushed back outside.
So let me lay this out for you. This is a residential street with no center line separating the two directions. Cars are parked on each side and at this time there are a few cars parked as such. It is dark because it is 7:30pm and the nearest streetlight is directly adjacent to where the man is laying in the center of the road. Between my house and the man in the street there is one shoe 20 feet from the man and as I sprinted towards him I also passed the cell phone he was using which now lay, like the shoe, in the middle of the road.
The man was well lit by the street light and in my absence another man, my neighbor, had arrived on the scene and was already calling 9-1-1. The two of us knelt next to the man and I got my first good look at the guy and guess what, it was really just a kid. Maybe 22 – 25 years old. He had dirty blond hard which was shaggy and unkempt. The kid was rocking basketball shorts and had tattoos covering most of his chest and arms. He was conscious and clearly in shock and the only thing I could think about was that less than 5 minutes ago I was worried this guy might be trying to steal my mail and now I am worried he might die.
It was at this moment my wife walked up next to me and I handed her the phone I didn’t use to call an ambulance and asked her to head back inside because the kids must be freaking out. She, as wives do, tried to be helpful and tidy up at the same time. She collected the man’s phone, and shoe and brought them to him in what could only be described as a gesture with no purpose. I love her. So she hands the man his phone while my neighbor and I are asking the kid what his name is, where he lives, and trying to keep him focused when I hear my front door thrown open and the collective cries, complete with tears, of my children. If this is the first time in the last few minutes that you remember we have kids, yeah well, us too.
I turned to my wife and said, “Go to the kids, they’ve got to be scared.”
She says something like, “Oh honey, you are right, you are always right, and so smart, and handsome.” Word for word. So she runs to the front of the house and back to the kids and almost all at once the tears stop because…. Mom is back.
As Mom leaves the crime scene the police arrive and they are not nearly as concerned about neatness. They don’t pick up any shoes, or phones and actually start painting the asphalt where they find things. The ambulance and fire truck and all my neighbors also arrive about the same time. The kid doesn’t want to go in the ambulance but isn’t able to stand or walk on his own so he agrees to the insurance funded ride to the hospital. It all happens pretty quick. No back board, or medical attention. The ambulance folks just collect the kid and get on their way.
I walk back inside and am met by all four of my children at once asking 2-3 million different questions. I am able to focus on the loud ones best, and can clearly pick out, “What happened,” and, “Who hit that man,” and the worst by a mile, “Daddy, I’m scared.”
Yep, “Daddy, I’m scared.” I mean, what am I supposed to do with this? I created this! We arrived home and I created unnecessary tension about the half-naked man and then something happened. Totally unrelated, maybe, but still something. The kids might be connecting my initial concern but really the fact a person was hit by a car and that the driver fled was enough to get their little minds going. I felt horrible that a kid I was worried about stealing my mail ended up motionless in the middle of the road and possibly seriously injured. So How to deal with “Daddy I’m scared?”
I am a huge fan of telling my kids what they can handle when they can handle it. So I elected to be honest, tell them the truth, use this as a teaching moment. I talked with them about what happened. I talked with them about what I did, and what the police did. I answered all their questions which mostly focused on why that man was hit with a car. We talked about how accidents happen, and how it’s possible to get hit by a car. Might have been the wrong decision but I used this as a justification for every time I barked at them for walking into the road without looking both ways. Yeah, it’s a stupid Dad thing to do but I couldn’t help myself.
During dinner, during bath time, and during bed-time we continued to reassure them they were safe. Their little minds worried about cars, and half-naked men and the police lights that would flash for over an hour after bedtime. They sensed the panic, the concern, and the reality of the moment and they latched on. Those poor kids struggle much harder than I do in letting this moment go. Because… because they don’t understand, and they still don’t despite all the conversations, reassurances, or police badge stickers, they don’t nearly come close to getting it. We love them, we hug them, and we just make sure they know we are there for them, always.
I want my kids to know I am here, and I can keep them safe. I want them to know they are safe. The night got kicked off with Justin Timberlake singing True Colors and in the end I can’t get that one part out of my freaking head…..
If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there
I want them to know, I really hope they know….. I am there.