Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Maternal Instinct

I now know how mothers are able to lift cars to save their kids.

Don't worry; Ainsley didn't almost die. But I did have a moment where maternal instinct kicked in and my only thought was Ainsley, and didn't feel my injuries until later.

The "waterpark" at our gym opened this week. It's a small affair; there's a shallow pool with kiddie slides and fountains and geysers and such, and an area with body and tube slides. We went to check it out yesterday, and after seeing that the tube slide allowed for either single or double inner tubes, Ains and I thought it might be fun to ride together down the long, mostly darkened green slide.

It's important that I tell you an hour after we rode, someone got on the intercom and made an announcement that "two people of differing weight should refrain from riding double on the slides."

We carried our inner tube up the stairs and loaded ourselves on, with Ains in the front. That was what the lifeguard recommended to keep us from flipping the tube on the first turn.

Not sound advice.

As soon as we entered the covered tube, into which no daylight came, we hit the first turn hard and got flipped completely off the tube. One minute I had my legs around Ainsley's waist and a tight grip on the handles; the next, I am flying blind and fast and have no idea where either my child or the tube are in the void.

Then I hear Ainsley scream, and then blubber a little, and I realize she's off the tube, too, and by the blubbering, the water is high enough that it's taking her breath away a little.

My mission becomes finding and holding on to Ainsley to keep her head out of the water (the water level is a little higher in this tube than in a body slide.) I reach out blindly, feel a little Lycra, and hold Ains up almost above myself. It's all I can think of, and I have her in an iron grip.

I finally see daylight, and we are zoomed out into the pool. I see it coming, and I work harder to keep Ainsley's head up so she doesn't panic when she hits the water. A second later, our inner tube is shot out of the opening behind us.

The lifeguard at the bottom sighs and asks, "Did you get flipped out?"

No, ma'am, we got off mid-ride for shits and giggles.

She rolls her eyes at me and says something about making an announcement about kids and adults riding together, but I am only half listening because I am amazed that my kid isn't freaking out or crying. She's just insisting that she do no more rides while we're there.

Ten minutes later we walk to the kiddie slide and I sit on the edge of the pool; as soon as I bend my left knee, it starts aching and burning. I look down and see a knot the size of a quarter on my poor kneecap. I can bend my knee, but it hurts like a SOB to do so, and when I do, it has a distinctly knobbier profile than the other knee. Before our day was up, my knee would turn a shade of purple-black akin to a stormy sky at twilight. But not nearly as romantic. And this morning when I turned over in bed, I realized I have a similar knot and bruise on my left elbow (and today that bump has been more painful than the knee.)

I know I must have obtained the injuries inside the Slide of Death, but I have no idea how. If i had been by myself, I am sure whatever crease or bump the left side of my body hit to make those bruises would have made me scream and unleash my favorite word that starts with an F and ends with a CK, but I didn't feel anything at the time but the Lycra on Ainsley's suit. Adrenaline was flowing, and my brain was so busy screaming GRAB AINSLEY AND HOLD ON TIGHT AND FORTHELOVEOFGODDON'TLETGO that my body wasn't feeling pain, wasn't feeling injury, just feeling for my kid. I probably could have been getting hit in the face with lead weights dangling from the plastic above, and I wouldn't have felt it until later.

It was only a minor scare and hardly a brush with death, but I know now what mothers are made of. It's sturdy stuff when our kids need us.

But it is only flesh and bone after all, so the day after, you will need some Alleve.

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