Bruised Alter-Ego

As soon as Calvin became a toddler, it became apparent that I would never be able to go through a day without tripping over something - frequently, the toddler himself. Neither would I be able to walk a straight line without obstruction. It became even more fun when I was hugely pregnant and the obstacles would come up beneath me, unseen.

By now, four years later, I am quite used to small toys, small piles of laundry or books or stuffed animals, and small boys being beneath my feet or behind my legs at any given moment. I am becoming more adept, but no less annoyed, at having to readjust my path or catch myself in a stumble or console the boy over whom I tumbled. It's part of my life as mom.

But now I have a second life - my super identity as Master's Student At A Really Smart Historic Liberal Arts College.

By the time I drive the hour it takes to get there - listening to my music and thinking my own thoughts without having to referee backseat affairs or ask that someone please give the baby his pacifier because I can't reach from the driver's seat - I have changed from my mild-mannered yet slightly flustered mother self to my smart and savvy back-at-school-to-discuss-great-literature self. I'm almost cool, and definitely mostly have it together.

By the time I step out onto the old cobblestone sidewalks of campus and walk through the thick stone walls of a building built in the late 18th century, I feel entirely different, thinking deep thoughts about western civilization, and completely forgetting that there's a place where most of the time I can't walk a straight line, let alone accomplish anything that resembles any kind of civilization.

Yep, I feel good. A Budding Intellectual. Sophisticated, even. (And in such an elevated state of mind that I'm totally able to ignore the panel pants I'm still wearing because I refuse to buy jeans one size larger but can't fit into the pants I wore pre-preg even though I weigh what I did pre-preg...)

I buy my dinner at the charming basement coffee shop, prop it on top of my stack of books, grab my fountain drink in the other hand and head outside and up the charming historic cobbled steps to the common area where the rest of the student body is settling in at tables and benches to enjoy dinner al fresco.

Then I, Code Yellow the super student, trip on the second step going up. No, OK, it's not just a trip. It's a certified fall that started with a trip. Genuine clutz all over it.

My books go flying up the stairs, but not before the top of my drink pops off and the bottom of the cup bursts out and splashes Pepsi all over the books. And my face. My knee hits the next step up and then my arm gets pinned beneath the books and my dinner.

I vaguely hear a voice, one that must be coming from the person who owns the feet that I can see rushing toward me at my eye level on the top step..."Oh my gosh! Is she OK?!"

I stand up and he gives me my topless and bottomless Pepsi cup and helps me gather my books while I say thanks and try not to think about the Pepsi dripping from the end of my nose or look at my extremely painful elbow, which I know must be gushing blood onto my panel pants that now have a cobblestone scrape on the outside and a very bruised knee on the inside.

I shuffle across the common area, through the rest of the students, toward the building I was headed to in the first place and spend my dinner hour wiping sticky soda from my face and books and trying to get my elbow to stop bleeding before my next class starts. And yes, I cry a little because I'm not sure what is more painful - the elbow and knee, or my wounded pride.

Wouldn't you know that my mom self decided at the last minute to take the band-aids out of her purse since she wasn't taking any accident prone children along today? And doesn't it just figure that the guy who helped me up is in my next class, so I get to see him every school day now?

The next day, Henry kisses my still oozing elbow after asking with genuine alarm what happened. My little boy is sincerely concerned when I tell him I fell down at school, and he's using the only super power he knows to make me feel better.

And I realize, with some relief, that luckily, I'm not fooling anyone.


Anonymous said...

Oh T, I was getting all excited about "school daze" because I am doing the same (on a Bach level) and it feels so good, but then the fall. I felt the pain and stares right with you. I am sure that dude will forget. By the way I run into things and DROP things too, we must be soulmates:) Did you have a good b-day otherwise?

the lizness said...

definitely reason to shed some tears. Poor thing! and how is your elbow now?

Real said...

I was totally with you on what it felt like to be in school and thinking great thoughts and having a nice, peaceful little meal and being sophisticated.

And the fall! At that moment. UGH! My last big fall was at least in the privacy of my own home.

Hope you feel better soon!

someone else said...

Oh you poor thing! I hope the bruises go away soon.

Super Happy Girl said...

Oh no! Now my own tale of woe is nothing compare to this.
Clumsiness takes the sophistication out of everything :D
Henry is such a sweetheart.

NOBODY said...

Okay, if I were a ROFLer, I woulda been at the trying not to think about Pepsi dripping off your nose and blood on your panel pants. As it stands, I did laugh very loudly and suddenly and scared all three of my kids. The set up for this story is masterful. And you know what would have embarrassed me the most? "Is SHE okay?" That's SO mortifying to hear people talking about you as though, well, if you can't make it up stairs with a pepsi in hand, surely you can't understand them talking...:)

I'm sorry about your wounds though, but honestly---worth the story. So funny that you took the bandaids out. And your little bruiser is the best to tend to your bruises. What a sweet boy.

An Ordinary Mom said...

This is one of the best stories ever ... you have such a way with words :) !!

Gabriela said...

Awwww, I hope your elbow (and your ego) are ok now. It sounded like something out of a movie. :)

I am jealous of you going to school-that's so cool. And Henry is such a sweetheart.

Jennifer @ Fruit of My Hands said...

Ouch! I think I'm finally developing callouses on my feet from stepping on legos barefooted.

Thanks so much for your kind words on my blog today.

Sketchy said...

Oh goodness I hate when my clutzy sides show through my sophisticated pants...

Your son making you feel better makes me smile, you're doing good there.

Ice Cream said...

This post is what is meant by the words Bitter-Sweet. I will be relishing this for years to come, yet praying everyday that it never happens to you again. I almost started crying when you said "My own music," and, "My own thoughts" because I know how amazing those moments are.

Jill Urbane, The Mentor Mom said...

Please know that you are not the only one out there who falls "up" steps! I can't count how MANY times I have done this, including on a job interview with the vice president of a major non-profit organization. I fell at his feet with my resume in my hand. Amazingly enough, I got the job!

I hope your ego and elbow are well. What a well written post. I totally related with all of your thoughts and emotions about returning to school and having alone time in the car. Best of luck to you with your academic endeavors and thanks so much for sharing your experiences with the rest of us :)

Trina and Jophie said...

Oh gosh you poor thing. I'll have to be honest here though....

I DID giggle...ALOT :0)

Hope that elbow and ego both are doing a bit better now.


megachick said...

normally, i would have laughed. i tend to laugh when people get hurt, especially after the fact when they're retelling the story so well.
but this time, all i did was say, "oh, NO!" and hope that you're all right.
it's nice when the little ones show compassion.
good luck with your continuing education. i'd like to do it, but i can't decide what to take.

Anonymous said...

I had a different feeling when I went back to finish my B.A. in 2005 - I felt awkward and out of place after being home with my four kids! For the first few weeks, all I wanted to do was rush back home, where I knew I was the Queen of the Castle and where I knew I could at least pretend to control the environment and atmosphere of my surroundings. I settled in to the groove of things, though, eventually.

I hope - despite your fall! - that you continue to relish the opportunity you have there. Best of luck to you on this adventurous endeavor!

Unknown said...

Sorry about the fall. Wonderful stuff, here. Thank you for sharing. One might have thought that someone with a newborn and two other preschool boys was crazy to go back to school, but the beginning of the post convinced me that not only did you know what you were doing, but you are one lucky wife/mom!