Some Saturday

On Saturday, Otto needed to be on campus all day for a workshop, so the kids and I were left to fend for ourselves. No matter—we slept late, lolled around in our jammies, and about three hours later than we normally have breakfast, I made the kids some French toast out of homemade bread.

[“Mom, this is the best French toast in the history of French toast,” Monkey said, mouth crammed full and syrup dribbling from the corner of his lips. I know he’s a suck-up, but it’s still nice to hear.]

After, I did the dishes while the kids played on the computer. I suggested we think about going on a bike ride together, and they seemed to find that a pretty exciting prospect, so I laid out a plan whereby they could do a few necessary things (homework, practicing piano) while I did a little work, and then we’d get ready to go.

Everyone agreed and set to work.

Eventually we’d all completely our tasks, and I pumped up bike tires and strapped a canteen onto the back of my bike, and we set off on our ride.

“You go first, Mama,” urged Monkey, and I laughed.

“Um, no. I go LAST, so that I can keep an eye on the two of you.” Chickadee immediately began to argue, because Monkey goes too slow if he’s out front, but if he’s behind her he runs into her, and it was all very tragic and sad and finally I promised her that if SHE went first, I would make sure Monkey wouldn’t run her over.

She started out, and we came behind her. I stayed back with Monkey and shouted to Chickadee that she should wait for us at the end of the street. “Okay!” she called back, pedaling away.

Our street has just the tiniest dip of a hill at the end, and although I was too far back to do anything about it, I was close enough to watch as Chickadee pulled on her brakes at that incline… wobbled… and then pitched forward over her handlebars and landed in the street, bike crashing down on top of her for good measure.

“I’M COMING!” I yelled, standing up on my own pedals, heart pounding, scanning the intersection to make sure she wasn’t in danger of being run over, trying to keep all of the what-ifs at bay and the terror out of my voice. I was absolutely, completely, 100% convinced she’d broken at least one bone. My brain was spinning as I tried to figure out how I was going to get two children and three bikes and a serious injury back to the house all in one piece. I found myself wishing that Otto was there with us.

By the time I reached her, she was crying and bleeding but had managed to scoot out of the road. I got her bike up off of her and asked her to turn over so that I could have a look. She complied, holding both hands out in front of her, limp. I took a very deep breath before surveying the damage.

Both palms were raw and bleeding and embedded with asphalt. But they were still attached, and there weren’t any bones akimbo. I exhaled and hugged her. She was banged up, but nothing that was going to send us to the hospital.

Just as she’d surprised me with her new stoicism twice last week already (first, when she got her chicken pox booster without flinching, and then, giving a repeat flinch-free performance when getting her ears pierced), after a few minutes she agreed to walk her bike back to the house. We sent Monkey up ahead and walked our bikes, side by side, me trying to murmur soothing things that didn’t sound anything like “by the way, I am going to have to dig all of that dirt out of your wounds when we get back,” and her limping along and trying not to get blood on her bike.

Of course, once back, that was all history. The worst feeling in the word is watching your child get injured when you’re too far away to stop it. The second-worst feeling is being the one inflicting the pain in the name of “care.” I tried to be gentle, and I tried to keep the pain to a minimum; but there is simply no easy way to clean and debride a dozen road-rash wounds. She sat on my bathroom counter as I worked with the cotton balls and tweezers and clippers and she wept and I tried to hold it together and just get it done as quickly as possible. I praised her bravery and told her over and over how lucky she was that she hadn’t broken anything, and she cried and cried and apologized for ruining our ride.

I was okay until she apologized. It was that single act of concern for the rest of us that made ME cry, because GOOD LORD, KID, I’m picking chunks of road out of your hands, and you want to apologize that we didn’t get to go riding? STOP BEING SO SWEET.

At long last she was cleaned up and bandaged and slightly less pitiful, and she retired to the couch with a book while I finished cleaning up the swabs and wrappers and other paraphernalia from our amateur surgery.

I remember thinking that it was turning out to be kind of a crappy day.

At about the same time that that was happening, a man went on a shooting spree not far from Otto’s building. I didn’t find out until later, of course, but as the story unfolded I found myself glued to my computer in disbelief, searching for updates, listening to the police scanner, and thinking that hooboy, I’d take MY bad day over the bad day this was ACTUALLY turning out to be, any time.

Otto was safe, but I was still VERY happy to see him when he arrived home that evening.

I have no words for this sort of violence. I cannot explain how it makes me feel, to have something like this happen so close by, affecting people I know. Otto teases me about my general shunning of the newspaper and habit of ignoring the news, and I try to explain to him that I do it because it’s too upsetting to me. I know the world is full of evil; I don’t need to read about it every morning over coffee. Something like this cannot be ignored. It happened right here. It has rocked our community. It has rocked ME.

This morning as I sent my family off to their days at school and work, Chickadee was covered in bruises and scabs. I hugged her gently, trying not to put any pressure on her injuries, but for longer than usual. Monkey and Otto got extra hugs, too. I don’t know how to let them walk out the door, knowing what I know, without begging them to just stay here, safe with me. But somehow I let them go, because that’s what I’m supposed to do.

I would give anything, anything at all, to go back to that moment when I thought that watching my child fly over her handlebars was the most horrible thing that could happen that day.


  1. StephLove

    Wow. That does hit close to home. I’m sorry for your community.

    I hope C is feeling better, too.

  2. mom, again

    Both my husband & I have been on campus during two such incidents in NC in the 90’s. I witnessed part of it. *shudder* We lived in a rotten part of the next town over, but! Shots! on the pretty campus! On a sunny day!

    I understand, suddenly Chickadee’s banged up hands seem totally the better option. Which is sad.

    Hug Otto.

  3. susan

    You know, when I read about that shooting saturday, all I could think about was “that is where Mir’s Otto works, I know it”.
    Take care….

  4. bob

    I choose to believe that, out of 6 billion people in this world, the odds of my wife or children being hurt are really small. I couldn’t handle it any other way.

  5. Heidi

    Oh. My.

    Would it help if I told you I read “a man went on a shopping spree” and had to go re-read it to re-connect the disconnect?

  6. Aimee

    I avoid news like this for the same reason. There’s only so much misery and fear you can take in and stay sane.

    I’m very, very, very glad that Chickadee and Otto are okay. I’ll say a prayer for the victims and their families, and for all of us.

  7. Lylah


  8. exile on mom street

    Aw jeez. I knew about all of this and I still got choked up reading your post.

    I am, however, prone to choking up these days…

  9. Megan

    I work on a university campus and every time something like that happens we all feel a terrible hollowness inside – a ‘could be us, might be us, and oh God the people it is today’ feeling. So glad you’re all safe if bruised in various ways.

  10. Lynn

    That is just awful about the shootings…..why don’t we hear anything about it on the National news?????

  11. Lucinda

    Yeah, there are no words here other than I’m sorry and I’m glad everyone is okay. I avoid the news for the same reason.

  12. Tracy

    I can relate to Chickie, same thing happened to me but I was much, much older (like in my 30’s). I’m hoping she bounced back quicker than I did.
    God Bless and keep us all safe.

  13. JennyM

    I immediately thought about you guys when I saw the news yesterday; I’m glad Otto is ok.

    I still have a scar on my knee from a fall off a bike that I took when I was right around Chickadee’s age (over 20 years ago!). I can’t imagine my mom’s shock when she opened the door to see my bleeding, sobbing, 10-year old form clasped in the arms of one of the painters who were painting the house across the street, with the other painter standing behind him with my bike — they had seen the whole thing and had run down to scoop me up and carry me to my mom. (Ah, the good old innocent days — these days he’d have probably had me sign a waiver before-hand.) Luckily it was scrapes and bruises for me, too, but I definitely remember sitting on the counter while she de-gravelled me, and the sting of the Bactine! Do they even still make Bactine?

  14. Headless Mom

    These kinds of stories just stink. Lindsay wrote about this, too.

    So glad you are all ok.

  15. andytn

    This story is so upsetting. I also read Suburban Turmoil regularly. Please go check out her post, Mir, if you haven’t already. It just breaks my heart. I’m glad you’re all safe and sound.

  16. Jean

    When I heard that on the news, I wanted to send you an email and be sure that Otto wasn’t involved. And then I realized that you probably had enough on your mind and didn’t need readers pestering you. Glad to hear that everyone is safe. I’m sure there were many of us thinking of you…

  17. susie

    I thought of you guys on Saturday, too. What a terrible thing. My favorite professor in school was very involved with that community theater, and I was so relieved to not find his name in any article about it. But that doesn’t make it any better, it’s just a terrible thing all the way around. I am sorry.

  18. Katie in MA

    I immediately thought of you when I heard the news on Saturday. Surely the kind thoughts of half the Web has to increase your well-being superpowers, right?

    Hope Chickie feels better soon and at least gets to brag about her war wounds at school…

  19. Heather

    I avoid the news for the same reasons. I’m glad you’re all safe and sound. ((((Mirfamily))))

  20. paige

    I live very near, and work in Blacksburg VA. Just a week ago, we endured the second observance of the Virginia Tech shootings. It’s a small town. We all knew someone on campus, in that building.

    The whole community is still reeling, still in pain, two years later. As a teacher, I still have a full-on panic attack the day before school starts because when the students are in my school (less than 3/4 of a mile from the Tech campus), *I* am responsible for keeping them safe.

    Since that horrible day, I’ve hugged my kids tighter and longer and more often. My husband and I call each other during the day, just to check in. We end every single call with “I love you”.

    Just in case.

    I’m so thankful that the Mir family is safe and sound (other than scrapes and bruises). Hug them!

    Blessings to you and your family!

  21. Half Assed Kitchen

    I can’t read the paper or watch news on TV either. The Google headlines are about as much as I can take.

    I’m sorry this happened so close to home. Or at all.

  22. Kailani

    Horrible, horrible!
    Glad everyone you love is ok.
    Go for that bike ride soon!


  23. Tracy

    I meant to ask earlier—did they catch the guy? The last report I saw he was on the run.

  24. Randi

    1st of all, I’m so glad Chickadee wasn’t badly injured. Bike rides can be tons of fun but can be really scary at the same time!!

    Secondly, I hadn’t heard what had happened in your neck of the woods – how horrible. I honestly don’t understand people, and I’m very scared that as this economic crisis gets worse, the horrible things are going to increase as well.

  25. Kelly

    Man you have a way of making me get all teary…

    It does put things into perspective.

  26. Nicole

    French toast from homemade bread? Holy moly. Serious Mommy props to you. When my husband is away, I can hardly get it together enough to make instant oatmeal.

  27. B

    My husband is a marketing prof. and he and his dept are just in shock. I think some of them knew that guy and are a bit freaked out at what happened. I’m glad your family is safe(and I’m so sorry to hear about the bike accident–Ouch!).

  28. Alison

    How awful. I’ll keep your community in my thoughts and prayers.

  29. ~annie

    I’m glad you are all OK. I’d like to know when did this start? I mean the awful stuff that happens “out there” suddenly happening in our own neighborhoods, to people we know?! I want it to stop.

  30. Ingrid

    I’ve been thinking about you all and am glad you’re all okay.

  31. Pamela L

    I too am shocked by this new incident of violence. As soon as I heard about it, I thought of you and Otto. I told my husband that’s the “school of the photographer who takes beautiful pictures and is married to of the the wonderful mom who writes beautifully and daily for our pleasure.”

    God Bless Otto and all those at UGA.

  32. becky

    I worked on a University campus for 7 years. And these stories scare me every time. There have been way too many of them. Glad Otto is ok.

  33. mama speak

    I have no words, other than that I’m sad for those affected and relieved that no one in your family was included in that bunch.

    Saying a prayer for Chickie’s quick recovery. My brother did this when he was 7 & landed on his face. (He still claims it was my fault because we’d switched bikes for a race.) He split his front two teeth into a triangle. It was the day before we were leaving for a disneyland trip, which my mom said was “lucky” because his whole body was road rash & at least it was warm enough down there to wear loose shorts & tank tops the whole time.

  34. Brigitte

    I’m just glad you and your family are OK, my thoughts are with you.

  35. Amy-Go

    Hugs and wishes for warm fuzzy safety for all of you!

  36. Debbi

    When I saw this story, I was thinking about you since I wasn’t 100% sure where Otto worked. I’m so sorry you had to deal with this. I also work on a university campus and stories like this are so scary. We had a murder/suicide on our campus many years ago and I remember my husband calling me at home since I was off and saying “I am fine but I needed you to hear this from me first”. It happened right near our car in the lot and he didn’t know if the news would show it and I would freak out. Hugs to all of you.

  37. ImpostorMom

    I thought about y’all on Saturday when i learned what happened. I too shun the news generally but I happened to catch the crawl while I was on the elliptical at the gym. I did a double-take and found the remote so I could turn on the captions. It happened right behind the house I got married in. It was all roped off when I drove by later that day.

    It was a sad, terrible day in our town. However, i was with a friend from Atlanta on Saturday afternoon and we remarked that all the commotion surrounding the event is at least a testament to the safety of our city. Things like this just don’t happen here very often. My friend remarked that had this happened in Atlanta she might have seen a small mention on the nightly news but other than that it would have been just another day. Doesn’t make it less tragic but at least it reminds me of one of the reasons I still live here.

  38. Tami

    I,too, sent a lil prayer your way when I heard about the shooting not being sure where you live/work.

    Anyway, for a more important contribution to help Chickadee-have you ever used liquid bandage for cuts and abrasions? Its amazing and waterproof! However, it should be put on a dry skin surface to work, so she’s a few days away from that. Be warned that it HURTS LIKE THE DICKENS (my daughter and I deal with pain like this by loudly uttering words like bad Japanese actors) for about a minute after applying-but it’ll help prevent scabs from ripping off with bandaids because it replaces them and it makes the injury site less sensitive because it dries into a tough membrane. You don’t have to take it off cuz it wears off, and if you keep applying over the previous application it won’t hurt.So there. I garnered all this wisdom after using it after I clipped the tip off a finger off whilst pruning(don’t ask) and was VERY glad I found it. Good luck Chickadee, this won’t last forever,it’ll just feel that way!

  39. The commenter formerly known as Sophie

    Checkin’ to see if you were ok… I think “Athens,” I think you.

    Regarding the post of 4/21 – glad I don’t live in Athens.

    Tell Otto they closed the car museum at Stone Mountain. I’m going to miss that quirky place.

  40. Stephanie

    Mir, I thought of you guys, when I heard about that. I have been so upset about all the crap going on for us, financially, but, when something like this happens, it really makes you KNOW what is important. I’m glad Otto is ok…I’m so sad for those lives that were forever affected by something so terrible. I understand about your extra hugs for your family. They really ARE the only TRULY important thing in life.

  41. crockpot lady

    oh Mir, I’m so sorry. I try my hardest to stay away from the news, too. consider yourself hugged.
    xoxo steph

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