I've been reading and loving The Unwinding by George Packer - non fiction about the end of many precepts and certainhoods in US mythology to put it generally, which may sound dull but it's a fantastic read. Last night I at last got our (almost) 6 month old F to sleep finally and headed out to the kitchen table to read the book and enjoy a beverage, as is my wont while my wife got our 2 yr old N to sleep, prior to our nightly ritual of sitting on the futon and starting one in a cascade of endless Law & Orders and me falling asleep w/o fail 20 minutes in every time.
On page 241 I read about the ascendency of a NC congressman, seen and framed through the eyes of a NC businessman attempting to affect change via biodiesel, and came across this passage which involves said congressman-to-be being tended to by his father in a remote place after being stung multiple times by yellow jackets.
This naturally and immediately suggests to me a whole line of internal inquiry about what to do if/when my son is ever stung by a bee/yellow-jacket/hornet/other. Will he need and EpiPen too? Will he be one of those stories about allergic kids who swell up 3x in mere moments? Will the sting be his undoing? (note: don't be alarmed, these are all the healthy normal thoughts of any parent, sensing/anticipating peril around every corner). I felt blessed we hadn't encountered such yet and was somehow confident we wouldn't cross this bridge for many moons.
This morning we headed down to the river to check out the boats b/c it's Fleet Week. This is when some boats come up the Willamette River and park and allow the unwashed masses to come aboard (note: this is one of those things I would never ever do w/o a kid. It wouldn't even cross my mind. however the calculus of daily decisions is supremely altered w/ children in that going somewhere you don't have any actual interest in going trumps the catastrophe of staying home b/c at a minimum you won't have to look at the laundry/dishes and see them as some tacit reminder of your failings.)
We made it on to one boat, which was fine and neat and made me glad we went. Other boats had long 3 hour waits which we could not endure so we walked around the promenade, around the booths at Saturday Market (on Sunday) and past the not-yet-running-b/c-it's-10-AM carnival rides behind miles of chainlink.
We were standing at one chainlink bit, attempting to encourage N to walk for awhile since I'd been carrying him for probably a mile's worth of distance - now feeling it burn in my chest, arms, legs, in particular b/c I made the ill-informed last-minute decision to wear flip flops instead of the hassle of shoes upon leaving the house - and he was not interested, urging me to carry him instead.
And from nowhere, he began wailing in pain and we looked down and saw a stinger sticking out of his neck. A bee.
Moments later I am carrying him, the sun beating down, him screaming in pain, my flip-flops clap clapping on the walkway, trying to decide what to do - back to the car? find a first aid tent somewhere in the swell of the Rose Festival grounds? He can't stop crying, he can't stop touching his neck. And I am suddenly pulsing with fear - part particular to parenthood, part particular to my own stripe of dark worst-case paranoia - b/c we don't have an EpiPen. (But why would we?) And: Is this just coincidence? that 14 hours prior I was reading about stings and feeling blessed that N had never been stung? What are the odds?
And: Will this sting be his undoing?
We made our way to salvation, hearts slowing, N brave as hell. And I was re-presented this seeming
perpetual lesson: The lack/loss of control is a fundamental component of this whole enterprise.