You would think that by child #4, I would have had my wits working for me, not against me. It is possible, too, that by child #4, you start to cut corners, or you are just really busy, or even dumb.
Federica was about four months old, and we were getting ready to go somewhere … it’s all a blur, almost twelve years later. I was getting her ready on the changing table, and since things have not changed in over a decade, there was little Brynn, afro and all right at my side, trying to crawl back up into my uterus. She was so pleasant, though, and always laughing, smiling, that I enjoyed having her close. As most seven year girls do, they move around a lot, cheerleading, dancing, or in Brynn’s case, pretending to be a horse. You are correct, I didn’t say “ride” a horse, I said “be” a horse. She started riding a few years back, and everything referred back to jumps and cantering, and this is how she navigated the house.
As I was prepping my darling little Federica, I needed a onesie which was not within reach on the changing table, but about two feet away in a drawer. So, thinking the almost eight year old could handle watching the baby for 0.6 seconds, and keeping her hand close to her, I gave her “eyes and hands on deck” duty. I turned for a fleeting moment, and there it happened..every mother’s worse nightmare…the “thud-silence-shriek” combo. Federica fell off the changing table and was screaking, face planted, like someone who encountered Jack the Ripper in a cold London Alley in 1888. From the corner of my eye, I could see the little Shirley Temple head leaping around the very tempting round turret room as though she was a Breyer Horse competing at the Saratoga Classic. Then our eyes met, and she saw her sister on the floor, and she just looked at me, alarmed for a fleeting moment, and kept cantering.
I swept Kiks into my arms from the floor, and comforted her with my boobs and my shaking arms. I called my best friend who was a pediatrician who assured me the carpeted floor and the height of the changing table were probably not enough of a horror combo to do any damage. For the next week I kept examining her for signs of a concussion or brain damage, because I am a complete catastrophist. To this day, every time she does something completely irrational, or takes twenty minutes to put on a pair of leggings, I wonder if it was the changing table fall.
Brynn, is actually a very accomplished equestrian, and still rides today, though she rides a real horse, and has stopped pretending to be one. We told her she had to really think about that because Manhattan College may expel her. She promised she would stop, and as far as I know doesn’t leap over jumps around campus.