On This Day Five Years Ago

I recently enabled the “On This Day” feature in Facebook. This feature sends you a notification and then shows you all your previous posts from years past that you posted on this particular day of that year. I’m in love. And I’ve got all this fodder for looking-back blog posts!

Of course, we haven’t had internet service since the big thunderstorm a week ago. Our ISP has promised to come on Tuesday. They weren’t real good at returning calls when they promised that though, so I’m not holding my breath.

Anyway, it’s hard to write blog posts without an internet connection. I refuse to use the WordPress Android app to compose blogs. And it wasn’t until a couple of days ago that we bought a wireless adapter for our (approaching ancient) desktop computer so we could hotspot one of our phones and connect to the net from the computer.

Still – it was a long and emotionally draining weekend so I wasn’t interested in writing anything even though I now had the ability. Until I got the “On This Day” notification, that is. My husband and I had just finished watching Grace and Frankie on Netflix. As we sat on the couch trying to decide whether to retire to bed, I read my posts from years past.

Eventually, I got to the “5 years ago” section and saw this:


The next memory was from an hour and a half earlier and went something like this:

So I sit down to write my first ever blog post. After a brief pause, I find a good starting point. Just as I’m getting into the groove…

“Mom? Where are those capri pants we bought at the mall?”

“I don’t know. Everything I found in the shopping bags, I ran through the washer and dryer and they were in the green hamper. Don’t you have some other dress code to wear tomorrow?”

“No. Just those pants from Claire that are too tight and then those others that are too short.”


With a sigh, I get up from the computer and head down the hall. As I’m digging through the laundry, the boys’ door opens and out walks the youngest…

“I need to go poop.”

“Ok. But make it quick. I’ll be in to wipe you soon.”


I gather up all the khaki laundry and head to the laundry room. As I’m loading it, I hear crying from the bathroom. It gets louder and more intense. I see Jane so I ask her, “what’s going on?”

“He asked me to hug him so I did and then he asked for it again so I did and then…”

The rest of it is drowned out by the crying. I open the bathroom door. He’s screaming incoherently about wanting something more from sister. I recognize the cry. It’s the impossible-to-satisfy-I’m-too-tired cry. Nothing his sister does will satisfy him.


After some threats and cajoling and sweet talking and a trip back to the washing machine, I finally get him shuffled off to bed. All is quiet. Only a 20 minute interruption. I suspect I better get used to them.

The friends who had been encouraging me to start a blog had asked for the web address. I smiled when I read my response to them:

Not handing out the address until I’ve replaced the picture of the chess board and figured out how to remove the tagline that says “4 out of 5 dentists like this blog” and a few other important housekeeping tasks! 🙂 But the first post is done and I hope to get the address out very soon.

I was outright laughing when I saw the response from a high school friend… who actually happens to be a dentist:

I want to be one of the four out of five!

Two hours before that post (about 7:15 in the evening), I had posted that I’d done the research, picked a site, decided on a name, and figured out aliases for my children’s names. I declared that I would be creating my blog and was posting that intent so I could be accountable.

I expressed concern that my name was likely already taken. It was. This was originally just going to be “Bright Spots.” The name wasn’t available. I panicked. But that was the perfect name! Then I thought to add “my” to the front and “mybrightspots” was born.

I looked over at my husband tonight and said, “Wow. Today is the 5th anniversary of my blog. Guess I should have written a post or something. Oh, well.”

“You still can. There’s time.”

It may seem melodramatic but I felt in that moment, that I was at a fork in the road. To shrug “nah!” and head to bed with Two Dots and Words With Friends would be the first nail in my blogging coffin. Was this thing important or not? It was. I had been too tired just moments before, but now I wanted nothing more than to write.

So here I am. Perhaps boring you with long-winded Facebook posts from five years ago. But still writing. And BrightSpots? Well, I went to see what they were up to. This is what I saw:


Heh. So I outlasted them – whoever they were. That’s ok. I think I like expressing clear ownership of the bright spots after all.

Five years ago, I was attending a different church. I was working in a different building for a different supervisor. I hadn’t learned to enjoy wine. I hadn’t invested in a regular and vigorous workout routine. My husband hadn’t either and was growing a massively long beard. My children were about to turn 10, 7, and 2. My oldest child was still in elementary school.

Now I have a child marching in the High School band. And another starting bassoon in sixth grade. In fact, our three children are at three different campuses. Our first grader has learned to sass and employ sarcasm – even if he uses it at odd times. Our sixth grader is growing armpit hair and might have the faint shadow of a mustache if you hold him under the light just right. Our high schooler thinks she might want to go away to a special academy in two years. I enjoy a glass of wine after work some nights and work out with my cleanly shaved husband almost every morning.

Our life has changed so much. But the spots are still bright. And still mine.

A Minor’s Miner Dream

“When I grow up, I want to be a miner.”

“I think you might want to reconsider that,” I said in response to six year-old Hal’s pronouncement from the back seat.


“Well, miners don’t make a lot of money. They are usually very poor and they work very hard and it’s very dangerous work.”

“No, I’m going to mine for emeralds and diamonds and stuff. I won’t be poor.”

“If you are a miner, you’ll be poor. They don’t get to keep the stuff they find. They work for someone else.”

“That doesn’t make sense. I want to mine emeralds and I’ll keep what I find. It’ll be fun looking for stuff.”

“It’s not like Minecraft,” Daryl interjected. “Minecraft isn’t real life.”

“I know that!”

“Well, mining isn’t fun in real life. It’s hard work,” Daryl said.

“Well I think it could be fun. If I find a big diamond or something.”

“Sweetheart,” I tried again, “diamond miners are sometimes slave laborers or make very little money and it’s all a long ways away from here. They don’t necessarily find big diamonds and if they do, they certainly don’t get to keep them.”

“Well, I’ll just look for my own.”

“But the people who own the diamond mines won’t let you get near the places where you might find a diamond,” I said. “But, you know. You’ve got some time. If you still want to be a miner when you grow up, you can certainly look into it.”

After some silence, he spoke again.

“I changed my mind. Instead of being a miner, I want to be the person that the miners give what they find to.”

Getting the Message Across

We were driving along the interstate in Kansas, returning from our annual visit with relatives in Colorado. My husband was driving. A semi truck came up beside us on the left. He started blaring his horn as he approached and kept it going the entire time he passed us.

I looked up as his cab came even with our windows. He was gesturing wildly behind us and saying a lot of words that, of course, we couldn’t hear.

“Honey,” I said. “I think he’s trying to tell us there’s something wrong with our car.”

We had been traveling along in the right lane with the cruise control set for at least an hour. I could think of no other reason why someone would be honking and attempting to communicate with us. He was obviously trying to be helpful.

“I don’t feel anything wrong with the car,” my husband responded. The semi was not succeeding in getting past us in a timely manner and cars were stacking up behind it.

“Here,” my husband said to the other driver, who had turned on his right turn signal even though he still had most of his trailer to go, “let me help you out.” He released the cruise control and we slowed down sharply, allowing the man to get over in front of us.

Once the other traffic cleared and the semi was still not up to speed, my husband changed to the left lane. Good, I thought. Another opportunity to figure out what the guy was trying to tell us. He was trying to help us with something.

As we pulled up beside him, I looked out the window and up into his cab. He began gesturing and talking again. I wondered how he expected me to catch the stream of words flying out of his mouth. I wondered why he wasn’t pointing at a tire or the back window or whatever. I put my hand up and shrugged, to let him know that I wasn’t catching what he was trying to tell us.

So then he made it clear.

He shot me the bird.

Oh, so not being helpful. My bad.

I’m sure most of my readers saw that coming. I guess I’m just a bit naive. After indignantly reporting to my husband what had just happened, I learned that the driver had apparently been trying to pass us for some time and had been unable to give it enough juice. He was irritated with us for not accommodating him by reducing our speed, I guess. Or maybe he thought we were deliberately adjusting our speed to keep him stuck. I don’t know.

As I mulled this over for the next several miles, frustrated that the driver would believe that I was being a bitch when I shrugged at him – communicating “I don’t care what your problem is – we’ll do what we want” instead of “I’m sorry, I can’t understand what you are trying to tell me”, something struck me.

I don’t drive aggressively. I’m inclined to try to help people out if I can. The gentle honk when the light turns green is just to let you know that it’s green. I’m not expressing anger that you haven’t moved yet. I’ll move over, slow down, let other drivers in, whatever. And so when a driver came up beside us, honking and yelling, I assumed he was trying to help us. Silly me. Assuming other drivers are me.

Then again, that’s exactly what he was doing too: assuming my husband and I were just like him. Surely no one actually expects people in the right lane to slow down so they can pass them. So since he was angry with us, he must have assumed my husband was messing with him. And then when I shrugged at him, he assumed I was being ugly – just like he was being as he drove past us.

Maybe this is why naive people are swindled so much and mean people are angry so much. We keep assuming the people we are interacting with are just like us and misinterpreting their actions as a result. How many problems have been caused by our inability to accurately interpret other people through our distorted lenses? Something to think about.

The Grubby Gentleman

Apparently, if you leave my daughter alone in the stationary/greeting card/party supply aisle at Wal-Mart, she looks like a good candidate to ask for help. I’m not sure why – what with the teenager reputation of being all into themselves. I don’t know how long it took her to find the birthday card and Starbucks gift card before she found herself waiting for me to return from the home repair section on the opposite end of the store. All I know is that she was busy enough when I got back.

Specifically, she was looking at a greeting card with a very sketchy looking man. I was suspicious – not alarmed, but definitely on alert. I threaded through the other people between us and approached carefully. She grabbed the card and said, “No this is one for people wishing you a happy anniversary. Let’s see…”

She returned to the row of cards and began searching. I stepped up to make my presence known. Not that I cut an intimidating figure, but still. The man was dirty and his skin was covered both in tattoos and years of sun damage. His clothes were very worn. He was claiming that he had forgotten his glasses and couldn’t read the cards.

It was his anniversary and he felt very relieved that he had remembered. But he was having trouble finding an appropriate card. He wasn’t touching Jane or standing too close or anything that would set off any further alarms. I joined the search.

Jane found a card that would work and he held it while she looked some more. When she read the next one to him, he snatched it and declared it perfect. As we turned away from the racks, he thanked us and said with a smile, “Now I just need to go find some flowers.”

He even shook each of our hands before walking away. Not a threat. Not a pervert. Just a man looking to do something sweet for his wife. It occurred to me later that while his story might have been true, he also might not have been able to read, or read well.

As we walked away, Jane leaned over and said, “That’s the second person I’ve helped today. Before he came along, I helped a woman in one of those scooters get one of the birthday balloons down.”

Maybe seeing that was what made the man decide to approach her. I’m proud of her and her little good deeds. I’m a little saddened that I’ll still need to talk to her about being careful in situations like that. Just because… unfortunately… not all men, grubby or not, are as honest and harmless as that gentleman turned out to be.

21 Things I Irrationally Hate

{Note: This was written in the Spring of 2014 and never published for the reasons articulated here. I’ve added a link to a not-yet-written-at-the-time-but-exists-now post but am otherwise leaving it as written then.}


As I’ve indicated before, I was a lone blogger for a long time. I had hundreds of blog posts out there before I had very many people outside my real-life friends paying any attention.

I didn’t engage in Writing Challenges or Daily Prompts. I didn’t troll the tags or Freshly Pressed or any of the other avenues for “meeting people” in the blogging universe.

I was just telling my stories. Period.

Folks in the blogging universe eventually started to notice me and drag me slowly into the larger picture of a blogging community rather than just a rather public way to record the stories I want to hold onto. And as I gradually woke up, I started paying attention to those people that crossed my path. And I often liked what I saw.

I’m still not very good at checking out the blogs of people who like one of my posts or subscribe to follow mine. I’m just often busy when the notification comes in and then I don’t think about it later. But sometimes, when I’m lying in bed not wanting to get up (for example), I’ll follow the links in the email just to kill some more time.

I did that recently and discovered a delightful blog post from a kindred spirit entitled 21 Things I Irrationally Hate. At the end, she asked if we, her readers, had published a similar list. No, I thought, I haven’t.

With a sigh, I forced myself to leave blog land and start my day. As I trudged into the bathroom, I thought, What are my irrational hates? And they began to line up front and center in my brain. I looked around the bathroom. There was nothing within reach for me to write with. The desire to write it down warred with my reluctance to move. The former won out and I was soon standing at a counter writing them all down.

I ended up with more than 21. Which is fine. Just because her list has 21 doesn’t mean mine has to. But in the interest of keeping a handle on things, I applied a critical eye and ultimately decided that some of my “hates” were not in the least bit irrational and I crossed them off.

So now that I’ve written nearly an entire post without getting to the subject at hand, I now present to you my 21 Things I Irrationally Hate.

1) Snoring I can’t tolerate snoring noises. From the dog. From the spouse. From the kids. Simply can’t do it. It doesn’t matter how quiet or soft or rhythmic, whether I’m trying to sleep or not; once I hear it, I fixate on it and can’t let it go.

2) The New Donut Shop in Town First off, we really didn’t need a new donut shop. There’s almost as many donut shops as churches now. That’s not what raises my ire, however. The traffic congestion I now face on my morning drive to work, though, especially in light of the fact that we already had plenty of donut shops pushes me over the edge. Did they have to build it on that intersection?!

3) Pickled Beets As a kid, I occasionally confused beets and cranberry sauce. That was always an unhappy surprise. As an adult, I still can’t stand pickled beets and really don’t like beet lovers trying to peddle them to me.

4) Grammar Mistakes I abhor bad grammar. Far more than is reasonable for any sane person. If I receive word that there is a mistake in one of my blog posts and I can’t get to it to correct it, I get antsy. When I find one in any sort of “official” publication, I go ballistic. My eye is still twitching from the pop-up window on an application that said “Their are still windows open. Do you wish to continue?”

5) People Wearing Jeans or Perfume in the Backcountry Please. We are here to hike. And sleep under the stars. And experience nature. Quit screwing that up!

6) Losing Our Internet Connection Living in the country means this happens a lot. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of other things that could be done that don’t require internet service. Still, once it’s gone, I simply can’t wait to publish that blog post or watch that show on Netflix.

7) Facebook’s Sorting Criteria I have no idea how Facebook determines what is important for me to see. I really wish it would just leave it all in time order. That way, I can scroll until I see something I’ve already seen and know I’ve missed nothing. The Android Facebook app is even more baffling than the basic website.

8) Sweet Pickles Actually, not just any sweet pickles. Sweet pickles masquerading as dill. There is simply nothing worse in the culinary world than crunching into what you think is a dill pickle only to taste that icky sweet pickle taste.

9) Unsorted Laundry in my Kids’ Drawers No matter how many times I tell them to sort their pile of folded laundry, no matter how many times I clean out their drawers and dictate which articles go where, they always mess it up. It absolutely infuriates me when they say they can’t find something and I open the drawer to see that everything from shirts to pants to underwear and pajamas have been tossed higgledy-piggledy into the drawer.

10) Driving on Road Trips This is my husband’s job. I’m sorry, but it is. I do not like that he makes me share this burden. I mean, really. It’s my duty to sit in the passenger seat and read or sleep. Not his. What’s he thinking?

11) Slow Accelerators on On-Ramps Speaking of driving. I get quite irate when I get behind someone that does not understand that the objective of the on-ramp is to get your car up to, or at least close to, highway speeds before you reach the highway. I’ve been known (if no one is behind me) to come to a complete stop when I realize I’m behind a hopeless snail, thus allowing me time to properly accelerate once they get out of the way.

12) Premature Deccelerators Approaching Off-Ramps Similarly, I despise people who begin to slow down on the highway prior to actually getting on the off-ramp. People! 99% of the off-ramps are specifically designed to allow you enough time to go from highway speed to access road speed on them. Please don’t jump the gun!

13) My Right Pinky Toe I’m not kidding. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, just that it gives me problems. The nail isn’t like the ones on all my other toes. I think the bone is turned slightly too. It’s like it’s twisted slightly to the outside – imagine someone with bowlegs. That’s what my toe reminds me of. It’s not that noticeable to look at but it makes wearing certain shoes uncomfortable. And it always waits until I’ve purchased said shoes before it indicates there’s a problem.

14) Poop There’s several things about poop that I hate. First, I’m really, really tired of wiping my five year old’s bottom. Really. I’m also tired of the two older children suddenly realizing they need to poop a couple of minutes into a task I’ve given them. Oh, and then, the teenager with the ipod in particular will spend half an hour or more on the toilet. And if I poke my head in to tell her she’s taking too long, she’ll exclaim, “Mo-om! I’m trying to poop!” It’s like throne time is non-questionable. I simply must accept their prolonged attempts to relieve themselves. Of waste product, and of responsibility.

15) Exercising Without Entertainment Bo-oring! Give me a book and I’ll walk the treadmill or ride the stationary bike. Give me a movie and I’ll run on that treadmill. Deprive me of both and I’ll hate every minute of it. Hate it.

16) Janitors Who Fail to Properly Stock Toilet Paper This will be its own post some day soon. I can’t stand it when janitors take out the almost finished roll from a double dispenser and stack it on top for me to use instead of waiting for it to empty (there is another one in the dispenser, after all). {edit: Ironically, the toilet paper post became reality long before this list did.}

17) People Who Use Toilet Paper Wrongly I’m still talking about double TP dispensers in public restrooms. In order for the janitors to even be able to stock properly, people need to always take paper from whichever roll is smaller. Otherwise, we end up with two very small rolls instead of one empty and one full, and then the janitors are forced to make me angry by stacking the rolls.

18) Forgetting to Put the Laundry in the Dryer Something’s wrong with our dryer. It takes a very long time to dry. So if I forget to move the laundry over to it, it delays the whole process when I prepare to start a new round. Even worse is when I put it in the dryer and fail to start it. Then, I’m ready to move the next load over, but – surprise! The previous load is still wet! Then my whole plan is thrown off.

19) Inaccuracy I’m not talking about lying. I’m just talking about people being inaccurate. About anything. I can’t help myself. If we agree that we are going to do X, then Y, then Z, and you then relate to another friend that we will do X, Z, Y, even if the order doesn’t matter, I’ll correct you. If you tell someone we saw a green car and I know it was blue, I’ll likely interrupt your tale to correct the color. Even if it’s not integral to the story. This extends on into areas of truth that are legitimate areas to insist on accuracy, but the drive for everything to be right is completely irrational.

20) Public Lore That Is False Oh, my gosh, this drives me crazy! “Al Gore invented the internet”… “Woman sued McDonald’s because she didn’t know coffee was hot”. The fact that Al Gore never claimed to invent the internet and the poor old woman was severely burned by excessively hot coffee and only sued when McDonald’s refused to cover her medical expenses is lost on most people. This stems from #19. I feel the need to correct stuff like this All. The. Time. Does it really matter if Joe Blow thinks the McDonald’s lawsuit was frivolous? Yes! To me, it does. Even though… really… it probably shouldn’t…

21) Internet Comments I have friends who love reading the comments on news articles. They are greatly amused by the wealth of idiocy on display. I can’t stand them. There are three types of comments I can’t stand – for different reasons. There’s the angry/hateful/judgmental ones; those are the people who can’t imagine anyone else having a different opinion and feel the need to beat down everyone else. I think hatred of them might just be rational. Then there’s the clueless people; those whose comments illustrate that they simply haven’t read the article. Or have poor reading comprehension. I should ignore these people but I can’t (see #19 and #20). Then there’s the people who comment on tragedies with some variation of “Praying!” or “Prayers coming from Dallas!” Hating these comments is completely irrational because they are probably nice people who mean well. But those comments have always struck me as a bit pompous. Announcing prayer is not necessary for its success. I don’t think the people being prayed for are likely to see the comments in order to take comfort from all that praying being tossed around. So it strikes me as people who want to advertise to everyone else that they are good Holy people. And that annoys me. I often wonder how many of them actually stop to pray before rushing to the next story to react strongly to.

And there’s my list. What about you? What do you irrationally hate? Overly long and rambling blog posts about nothing? 😉

My Year Lurking on the Sidelines

I currently have 30 unpublished drafts in my WordPress repertoire. The most recent is less than two weeks old; the oldest is approaching three years. Some of them are unfinished, and at this point likely never will be. Others are just waiting for me to hit “Publish”. Not even I can articulate why the delay.

There’s one that’s been haunting me though. You see, well over a year ago, a blogger followed me. I got an email from WordPress telling me so and I took its advice and followed the link to one of her posts, which I subsequently really liked. It stuck with me and I ultimately wrote a response post.

But I never published it. See, it was a list kind of thing. Her list had been short and succinct and funny and entertaining and insightful to her personality. My list was, I think, funny and entertaining and definitely insightful to my personality. But it had not been short and succinct. It was bloated and overstated. This in and of itself was insightful to who I am, but it bothered me. So I planned to revisit it and edit it down to something better. That was early April 2014. I edited it some more a month later but was still unsatisfied.

Then something unexpected happened. She started talking about legal troubles, her fight coming to an end, she’d be going to jail. This floored me. This beautiful soul? Going to jail? How can that be? She’s so open, so full of light. This is wrong.

You don’t actually know her, I reminded myself. You don’t know anything about her. Maybe she did do this thing or maybe she didn’t. You just don’t know.

My emotions were in a strange state. Here was a person I didn’t know but still, oddly, had come to care about. I wasn’t interacting with her on her blog – just reading her posts. She wasn’t interacting on mine. We had no relationship, yet I was distressed.

And it clearly seemed like the wrong time to publish my list response to her list. She had bigger problems than things she “irrationally” hated. So I sat on it. And continued to read about her troubles.

Eventually, she went to jail. Her husband posted on her blog periodically about how she was doing. He gave an address for people to write to. So many people were supportive and loved her. It was heart-warming.

I should mail her a print-out of my blog post, I thought. That might brighten her day a bit. Maybe. To know that even a stranger cares. But life is often busy and selfish. I never mailed the post. I thought about her often, but the kind thoughts of strangers does a person zero good if they are unaware of the thoughts.

And then tragedy struck again. Her husband died suddenly and unexpectedly. I don’t recall how the story got out. By then, I had become friendly with folks who all seemed to love this blogger very much. The pain I felt at her husband’s death was real. It didn’t feel like the abstract pain you feel when you hear news of distant death. I felt like a beautiful bird was being weighted down and it simply wasn’t right.

Still, I didn’t mail the post. To mail it then in the midst of all that grief seemed shallow and insensitive. Who wants to talk jovially about irrational hates at a time like that. Besides, who was I to her?

Then, all those mutual friends began to spread the word.

Rarasaur had a release date.

An internet parade of celebration began.

I smiled.

I didn’t feel like I had a right to be part of the celebration. That might seem strange to some, but I had happened upon her too late to develop a relationship before. I wasn’t her friend, virtual or otherwise. She wasn’t mine. She had simply been someone I admired, or whose writing I’d admired, or both. She was someone I had sensed a special spark in, someone I had hoped to get to know better.

And now she was out.

And I was glad.

Not because I could now attempt a relationship, but because she deserved to be out. She deserved for something to go right. She deserved to heal and to return to those people who loved her. And I’ve been enjoying all the grace and beauty I’ve seen from her since.

So here I was today, trying to remember all the blog posts I’d composed in my head over the last week or two, and the only one I could remember even an inkling of was this. To welcome Rara home. And finally share my list. As my silly, inconsequential way of welcoming her back and telling her that she meant something even to people she didn’t know were watching.

The list needs some touch-up. It’s nearly a year and a half old, after all. But I’ll share it soon. Not tacked onto this long post though. It already has its own long-winded intro and doesn’t need another. I’ll add the link here when it’s up though.

Welcome home Rara.

The Great Lizard Race

The lizard skitters along the road, no cares in the world. Sure, there are people here but they mostly leave him alone. Besides, they can’t catch him. A few of the little ones have tried.

A boy appears along the road. The boy sees the lizard. The boy remembers the conversation over dinner the night before. Specifically, the part about the lizards. His family had commented on how fast the lizards were. I bet I’m faster, he thinks to himself. And then, on the kind of whim that only young boys seem to have, he decides to prove it. He takes off running.

The lizard doesn’t know he’s been challenged to a race. He only knows one of the not-so-little-but-not-full-sized people is running roughly toward him. He picks up speed accordingly.

The boy steps it up a notch. He is faster than the lizard. He knows he is. He runs alongside the lizard, gaining ground. He’s winning! He’s winning! He knew he was faster!

Suddenly, the lizard leaves the boy in his dust. The boy doesn’t know what happened. He was winning. And then he was on his back, dazed and confused. He rolls over and struggles to his knees. He sees a rock nearby. He crawls over to it before attempting to stand.

Once on his feet, he sees a concerned woman nearby. “That was quite a crash. Are you OK?” she asks.

He stares back at her blankly. She asks again. He mumbles his response before heading off to find his mother.

At least, that’s how we think it happened. We have to fill in the blanks because my son Daryl, the great and mighty lizard racer, doesn’t remember anything between winning the race and the second time the woman queried him.

When he walked away from the woman, she assumed he was embarrassed and trying to act tough. He entered the room where his sister and I were working on our stained glass projects. He was sweaty and agitated. I could tell something was wrong but was unsure whether he was in physical or emotional pain.

“Mommy,” he started shakily. He looked back behind him and then turned back. His words came out in a rush. “I was racing a lizard and I ran into that white thing out there and… and… and… my head really hurts! It hurts so bad!!”

He grabbed his forehead and burst into tears.

Jane hurried to get some medicine out of her backpack while I gently moved his hand to check his forehead. There was nothing there. No bump or bruise or abrasion. I found a nasty line of bruising on his right forearm, but nothing even remotely tender on his forehead.

“You said you hit your head?”

“Yes. It hurts! It hurts! It hurts!”

This was not like him and I was confused. I glanced out the window. “What did you hit your head on?”

“That white thing out there.” He motioned vaguely out the window. I didn’t see a white thing that he could have hit his head on. I gently pulled him outside and asked him to show me.

He pointed to a white barrier, about three feet off the ground, that was essentially permanently across the road between the buildings at the camp and conference facility we were staying at.

“Honey,” I said patiently. “There’s no way you could have hit your head on that. Especially not at the same time you hit your arm.”

“Well, maybe I didn’t hit my head then. But it really hurts!”

“Maybe you didn’t? Did you or didn’t you hit your head?”

“I don’t know!”

I was confused and a little concerned. I sent him back to our room to tell his Daddy and then went back into the stained glass room to gather my things for my basketry class that was starting in a few minutes.

When I came out of the room, my husband and son were standing nearby and my husband was trying to get a handle on what happened.

“So you were chasing the lizard and then…?”

“I was racing the lizard.”

“Ok. And then what happened?”

“I don’t know. I think I hit my head.”

We exchanged glances. I ran my fingers through Daryl’s hair. He winced. I checked the back of his head, where I could see that a portion of his scalp was red.

“Did you hit the back of your head?”

“I don’t know.”

“What did you have for lunch today?” my husband asked, after checking the abrasion on the back of our son’s head.

“I don’t know.”

“Daryl,” I said sharply, getting worried but hoping he was just playing it up for some sort of perceived benefit. “This isn’t funny. It’s very serious. Don’t think that it’s better to act like you don’t know what’s going on. You won’t like where this is headed if you can’t answer our questions. So please don’t play it up. What did you have for lunch?”

“I don’t know.” Lunch had been less than two hours earlier. Each ‘I don’t know’ statement was delivered the same. He wasn’t getting irritated or defensive. He was just calmly and a little distractedly answering. This didn’t feel right.

“What did you have for breakfast?” my husband tried.

“I don’t know.”

“What day is it?” he asked.

“I don’t know.”

“Shoot, honey!” I said. “Jane couldn’t tell you what day it is. It’s summertime! Daryl, what did we do yesterday while Daddy was at his meeting?”

“We waited.”

“Yes, we waited at first. But then we went and did something. What did we go do?”

“I don’t know.”

“You and Sissy and Hal and I. We all put on our swimsuits. What did we go do?”

“I don’t know.”

I looked at my husband. We were at least a half hour from the nearest hospital.

“I’ll take him back to the room and keep an eye on him,” he said.

So I went with Jane into our basketry class, where I sat down next to a woman who turned to me and asked, “Is your son OK?”

I glanced up sharply. “Did you see what happened?!”

“No, but I heard it. I thought he was on a skateboard or something – it made so much racket.”

“No, he was just running. Racing a lizard. What happened? Where was he?”

“Well, I don’t know, but I guess he ran into that road barrier. He didn’t get up right away. He crawled over to a rock first.” She would later decide that she was pretty sure he had been on the far side of the barrier, crawling under it to get to the large rock. This led us to believe that he had likely run into the barrier, flipped over it, and landed on his back, hitting the back of his head.

With a pediatrician and two nurses attending the conference with us, not to mention my husband’s own past emergency medical training, we decided that we did not (yet) need to take him to an emergency room. In fact, he seemed to be doing better that afternoon and soon returned to his own sketching class, with Dad in tow to keep an eye out for further symptoms.

For the rest of the week, he’d complain of headaches if he was too active. He felt a little nauseous the first day. We nixed his participation in the high-ropes course on the last full day and grew irritated with him when he reported a new headache after spinning on the tire swing “really, really fast”.

It’s hard to get kids to take brain injuries seriously.

But he rested as much as could be expected and limited his screen time and tried to take it easy. It’s been three weeks since the concussive conclusion of his lizard race. He’s doing much better.

And he’s learned to grin sheepishly when folks ask him if he’s seen any lizards lately.