When I picked up the kids at school on Friday afternoon, Em came out looking...slightly pained.
"What's the matter?" I asked, concerned. This is one of the World's Cheeriest Kids, after all. If she's not looking happy, there's a reason.
"Oh, nothing," she said. "It's just that my hand hurts where I burned it in PE."
"What?" I turned over her hand. On the pad beneath her thumb, there was a red area, and a blister. "How did THAT happen?"
"Well, we were testing on pushups, and the ground was really, really hot, and..."
"Didn't you SAY anything to Mr. S [the PE teacher]? And where was your towel?"
"I forgot my towel, and when I told Mr. S the ground was too hot--a lot of us complained--he said he'd felt it and it was fine and to get down and do my pushups. But it really hurt. And then a little while later, I saw this blister."
Sixty-some kids with their hands spread on a blacktop after noon on a day where the temperature was upwards of 85 degrees. And at least one of them--MY one of them--sustains a burn bad enough to blister.
Are they fucking KIDDING ME?
I'm the first one to admit that maybe, just maybe, I'm (what was that word again, Jane?) somewhat hypervigilant. It's even possible that I DEFINE the word hypervigilant (and hypochondriac and hypersensitive and pretty much every other high-strung-sounding word that starts with hyp). But my kid got a third-degree burn in PE. Come ON.
And here I was worrying about STAIRS.
The funny thing is, it took a while to really sink in. After I saw the burn, we walked home and I put a little aloe on it, and let her go play at her friend C's house. She called a while later to ask if she could sleep at C's, and when she and C and C's mom came to get her stuff, she mentioned that her hand was still hurting, and C's mom said she'd put more aloe on it if she needed, and I told C's mom it was OK to give her some Tylenol if necessary, and that seemed to be it.
Until I went to sleep last night, and had a dream in which some vague authority figure took N from me for some kind of "therapy," and I suddenly realized that he meant that N was going to be, um, sexually abused, and I was running down hallways slamming my body into walls, screaming for N, and hearing him scream back, "Help me, Mommy. Make it stop, Mommy." And I couldn't find him, and the doors wouldn't open. And even just typing this is making me feel the panic and the sick rising in my throat again.
I knew the second I woke, absolutely drenched in sweat, that this was not just a dream about failing N, because the very first thing in my conscious mind was Em, with my very first waking thought being, "I should have taken her straight into the principal's office then and there. It's not going to have the same impact via email."
And then I spent the next half-hour staring at the ceiling, waiting for my heart to stop racing, composing angry emails, and trying to decide just whom to cc:.
We've been at that school for six years now, and the worst I've done until the last month or so was to kvetch about Santa Claus. I guess I can just think of this as making up for lost being-a-pain-in-the-ass time.