So, the kids were playing on the playground in a park we frequent. I was doing my usual helicoptering, keeping them nearly within arm’s reach. You know, within smothering distance. Mostly, I just want to position myself near any gaps in the upper level’s railing, usually where they put the fire pole. I’m always worried MeToo will decide (again) that she can reach it and slide down without assistance, or lurch towards the side without realizing there’s no rail there. As she and RU were playing nearish to one, I stood beside it (it was between the steps and the nearest slide, anyway, so a good staging ground for where I was most likely to be needed). MeToo was just starting to scale her way down the iron steps when I got a text on my phone.
The message was from my parents, saying they were in town and could meet us for —
I ran around the metal steps to find MeToo lying on the ground. She was on her back but must have rolled over because she had dirt and sticks in her hair and mouth. I picked her up and held her as she started bawling.
Once I’d discerned there was no immediate emergency, my brain began to struggle with the puzzle of how did this happen. She was on the stairs. There are rails. She’d fallen onto the ground a good foot and a half from the steps. Maybe she could have ended up there if she’d climbed the rails and jumped off, but they’re nearly as tall as she is — she’s not nimble enough to get over them that quickly.
RU, helpful as always, tried to piece things together, CSI-style, by standing in the spot where she last saw MeToo, just prior to the accident. Like me, RU didn’t actually see the moment when it happened, but had been closer to MeToo than I had been.
The best explanation I can come up with is that MeToo wasn’t actually walking on the steps but was trying to climb down along the railing. She does this sometimes at home on our staircase. However, that railing projects out from the wall, so is over the steps themselves. This railing was out away from the steps by several inches. If MeToo hadn’t been looking and just placed her feet where she expected stairs to be… Well, the gap didn’t really look big enough for her to pass through, but her slipping between the bars of the railing was probably where the metallic “clank” came from.
By the time I’d figured that out, MeToo’s crying had downshifted a notch and I felt it was time to pick her up and take her to the car. Yes, MeToo agreed, she wanted to sit in the car and have her pacifier.
Actually, she sobbed when we were about halfway there, she’d be okay if she just had the pacifier. She’d be fine to go back to the playground once she had that comfort.
MeToo was still shaken when we reached the car but her crying was coasting to a stop. The pacifier calmed her nerves like a smooth cigarette and she was ready to get back into action — on the smaller of the two play structures, though.
A short time later, we met my parents for lunch a few streets over. When we related the story to them, and to the Wife who had met up with us by then, MeToo announced that she wanted to return to that park after lunch.
“I wan’ go back to the playgroun’ where I hurt myself.”
So we did. MeToo went right back to that spot and showed us, “That’s where I hur’ myself. Now, I go play.”
And she still asks to go back there.