(originally published July 30, 2008)
It was the uppercut heard ‘round the world.
“What happened to you?” my husband asked as I walked into the kitchen in a daze.
“Fmuplhtz,” I mumbled and stumbled toward the freezer door to open it.
“Uh, I didn’t quite catch that,” he answered.
I turned, clutching a handful of ice in one hand and tried again. “FMUPLHTZ. Shin. Ow.”
He looked at me like I’d responded in Swahili.
“OK, let’s try this another way,” he said. “Why does your face look like it hit a tree?”
“Gathe wannith to thump ‘ope,” I said.
I wrapped the ice in a kitchen towel, collapsed on the sofa and gently placed the homemade ice pack on the goose egg that had once been my chin.
“I don’t understand a word you’re saying,” my husband said in frustration, leaning over my prone form.
That’s because my lower jaw is embedded in my brain and it’s gonna take surgery to remove it, I thought just before passing out.
He wanted to jump rope.
Gabe, our three-year-old son, whose days were filled with manly, testosterone-filled activities like football, basketball, bike riding, peeing standing up and scratching himself wanted to jump rope like a sissy little girl.
His dad must never know.
“Uh, kiddo,” I said to my son and leaned down to whisper in his ear, “we don’t even have a jump rope.”
I patted him gently on the shoulder and suggested a friendly game of tag with the super soaker water cannons to wrench him back into Man World.
Gabe’s only reaction was to run into our bedroom and disappear into the closet. He quickly emerged with one of my husband’s brown leather belts and said, “Here you go, Mommy! We can use this!” and swung it in an arc around his little blonde head, the belt’s sharp, metal buckle just missing his left eye as it flew by.
I gasped in horror, ordered, “I don’t think so,” in a very firm I’m-the-mommy voice and reached for the belt.
And found myself swinging at air. He was already out of the room and down the hall with the leather belt clutched in his hands.
Man, I thought, he’s quick for a little sissy girl. And then I took off in pursuit.
After a quick game of tug-of-war and a heated, mature mediation involving rock/paper/scissors, we agreed he could use the belt to jump rope ONE time and only if I held it for him.
Like Napoleon at Waterloo, it was destined to become a not-so-good idea.
He stood before me, hands to his sides, ready to jump. I grabbed the belt…er…jump rope and whipped it over his head and leaned down to lower it to the floor at his feet.
He balled his fists, bent his knees and prepared to jump over the belt as it skipped across the floor toward his toes.
OK. So let’s pause here a moment.
I’d like to stress that this is the point I probably should have stopped and assessed the situation a bit more thoroughly.
Perhaps I should have taken the time to factor in my son’s above-average height and his ability to jump like Michael Jordan. Then add in the fact I have freakishly short arms ‘cuz I’m only slightly taller than a member of the Lollipop Guild.
Oh, and I’m leaning over him. Right as he’s about to launch himself into the air.
Consider yourself warned.
OK, back to the action.
And - BAM!
The top of his blonde head collided with the bottom of my chin in a blow to rival anything Muhammad Ali threw at…well anyone he ever boxed.
With the words, “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!” rattling in my head, I looked up to see stars then keeled over onto the floor like I’d been shot.
I lifted the ice pack from my face and cracked open an eyelid to see my husband standing over me.
“Gathe wannith to thump ‘ope,” I said. I shook my head and tried again. “Gabe wanted to jump rope.” Whew! I’d regained the ability to use most of the alphabet. “And my head got in the way.”
And before he could dwell on his son jumping rope, I added, “But, hey, at least we know he’s got a great vertical jump. Basketball may be in his future.” I paused and added, “Or boxing.”
You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.