Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On Thin Ice

We spent the weekend up in Big Bear, as we’ve done more or less for the last five years, with our gang. Eight adults, nine children aged 10 and under. You do the noise/chaos/Southern-California-kids-getting-their-once-yearly-dose-of-snow/adults-pounding-back-alcohol math.

On Saturday, Baroy and D—one of the other dads—took some large proportion of the kids down to Big Bear Lake to check out the scenery and the snow and the ice. D found some cool ice shards that had broken free of the main ice on the lake; the kids thought that was awesome, and decided to find some cool shards of their own, venturing out further and further onto the ice to do so, in full sight of two adult men who supposedly (and that is indeed the key word) have full use of their mental faculties. Need I go any further? Need I do anything but identify WHICH of the kids fell through the ice and into the lake while said adult men with supposedly full use of their mental faculties watched?

That would be Em.

At the time, we moms were out foraging for food at Vons. (Hey, it's the wilderness, you know!) When we returned, it was to a house of only slightly chastened children, two men who were studiously avoiding our gazes, and two others who barely let Em say, “I fell in the lake,” with a big grin on her face before piping up with “We weren’t even there! We had nothing to do with it!”

I wanted to beat them all, but had to console myself with shooting death rays at my husband.

And, no, I don’t care if it was only into six inches of water that she fell. It was ice cold, and she wound up in it up to her belly because she lost her footing when she fell.

She also has a cut on her forehead from some ice that was in a snowball during a snowball fight, a bruise on her left hip from sledding into a tree on Sunday afternoon, and an only slightly smaller bruise on her right hip from sledding into a metal light pole on Monday morning. Do we know how to keep our kids safe, or what?

Truth be told, Em had the best time of her life this weekend.

Each year, D has told the kids a “scary story” during our Big Bear trip. As the older kids have gotten, well, older, he’s made it scarier, and started including others in the game, such as having one of the husbands throw snowballs up at the windows of the room they’re in while he’s describing how Brian—the anti-hero of these scary stories—might just be stalking around outside, waiting to get them. There is always much screaming on Scary Story Night. I am the only one who hates it, because I hate being scared so much that watching other people be scared bothers me. The kids? ADORE it.

This time, the scary story had been promised for Sunday night, our last night there. On Sunday afternoon, after the older kids got back from their once-yearly ski lessons (it may take ‘em a while to get proficient, methinks), the phone rang. D, who picked up, asked the kids to turn down the TV so he could hear Officer Rawlins. Everyone was staring at him as he talked with the officer, and assured him we would indeed make sure we were locked up tight that night.

I am not kidding when I say that it was the kids who figured out sooner than I did that this was part of the story. My heart was literally in my throat...until I caught the you-really-aren’t-THAT-stupid-are-you gazes of my friends. (The answer: YES. And, duh.)

And thus began the hours-long “who made that phone call?” “where are the parents and where is each of their cell phones?” “this isn’t real, is it?” hysteria throughout the household. The easily freaked-out younger siblings were spirited away to another room for a while so that the olders could be systematically freaked out some more. Several more phone calls followed, each to ‘reassure’ us that, while Brian was somewhere right around the lake (the house we rented being just above the lake), they were sure they would catch him in time. But, just in case, we should lock the doors and windows.

In between reassuring one another that “this is just a joke...it IS just a joke, right?” the kids were manning the windows and peeking out the doors and watching us adults VERY carefully. (We had, apparently, enlisted outside help for this year’s Scary Story, and thus were able to sit looking innocent while these yes-really-from-outside-the-house calls came in one after the other.)

Finally, when speculation had reached a fever pitch, another call came in. This time, Officer Rawlings asked for J, the only boy among the 10-year-olds. J listened carefully to what the officer had to say, thanked him for his time (he really IS the most polite 10-year-old ever, not to mention having a sense of respect for authority that is so deeply ingrained he wouldn’t even CONSIDER not treating this person on the phone like he was indeed a police detective), and then turned to the now-clustered-around-him kids with a huge grin on his face.

“Now we have them!” he crowed. “Now we have proof that it’s just a joke!”

“How?” one of the other kids asked.

J started to giggle as he spoke, “Because he said that we didn’t have to worry about Brian coming after us anymore because he...” more giggling now “he...he went too far out onto the ice and fell into Big Bear Lake!”

It is a true testament to my daughter’s ability to take one for the team that she laughed hardest of us all. And that, my friends, is quite a feat, because I don’t think there was a person in that room who didn’t laugh hard enough to have to wipe tears from their eyes.


kristen said...

I could never participate in this weekend. Just reading about gives me the shakes.

Glad to hear you all had fun and that Em is indeed, a true survivor!

Ambre said...

This was really one of the best years ever, even though I wasn't in prime form. I think the kids all had an unprecidented amount of fun.

Anonymous said...

You do know who Officer Rawlins was, don't you? Deb's brother Greg, in a stellar performance hastily arranged by D. and D. once the kids were doubtful after the first phone call! LOL

I agree with Ambre, best year ever! The kids had such a great time.


po said...

Sounds wonderful, though I'm sorry Em fell into the lake! I can just SEE husbands E and J, though, making sure TC KNEW that THEY had nothing to do with it :D!!

PnP said...

It really was fantastic! Already looking forward to next year. So funny that Greg doesnt even have a clue what he was doing but boy those kids were convinced, whether they admit it or not.


Rich | Championable said...

That's pretty terrific staging.

I would have completely wigged out on whoever let my daughter fall into the lake... weapons free.

Ambre said...

Did you guys miss the sign driving down the hill that says "$500 fine for walking on lake ice?"

And Rich, it was her husband. I am sure he'll get punished for it many times over ;)