Friday morning started out reasonably well. Brandon had an official visitor in town that he had to take care of, so the children and I started our morning alone. I never like presiding over any meal alone, but we made it through with not much more than the usual breakfast craziness.
Since it was Friday, we didn't have school. Theoretically I take Fridays to pursue my own personal hobbies, but so far I've just been spending Friday getting settled and slogging through the backlog of to-dos that haven't gotten done yet. I toyed with the idea of trying to fit my to-dos in another time, but responsibility prevailed and I spent the morning finding, saving, and recording all my school receipts for reimbursement. It's easy to grumble about the work, but on a per-hour basis it's pretty good pay.
The children spent the morning working on an art project and keeping themselves entertained. I'm still new to the stage of parenting where my children can keep themselves reasonably entertained without too many fights, and I'm really really enjoying it. There are even enough responsible parties that I can instruct the girls to go and give everyone lunch and it actually gets done. Usually the kitchen is a small disaster, but it's a small price to pay for extra time gained to enter in a few more receipts.
After a short nap, the afternoon continued on with more form-filling (why do they want me to list every single book?) and creative entertainments. After Joseph and Eleanor woke up from their naps, the girls decided that it was time for (yet another) Royal Wedding. Patient, uncomplaining Eleanor was dressed up in her usual cream dress with cream tights and Joseph was bribed/coaxed into putting on some khakis, his church shirt, and a play dress coat.
Then the whole circus made its way, dragging the stroller with them, out into the courtyard. I occasionally feel for our Chinese neighbors as the screams, shouts, cries, and yells drift over our wall into their yard. Just the local diplomatic white trash, bringing down the property values.
I looked out the window to see yet another stroller-tricycle-bin combo rigged up to carry the prince and royal bride on their wedding progress. Joseph sat nobly on his pillows with Eleanor regally on his lap while the girls worked out navigation. I went back to work. Hopefully these receipts in Russian (Tajik?) will work for internet reimbursement.
As I was trying to figure out why our printer wasn't printing anything in black, 'blood' started drifting into my window mixed with the usual shouts and screams that formed normal background noise. I stuck my head outside and hollered for a situation report. "Joseph fell down," Sophia shouted back, "and he's bleeding. A lot."
I hustled downstairs. Indeed, there was a lot of blood coming from a cut on Joseph's chin. I brought him inside for a better look. In Baku Sophia slipped and cut her chin, which ended in trip to the SOS clinic and a very expensive tube of Dermabond. This was worse.
I called Brandon, whose phone was off. I called his other phone, which went to message. I called it again and again and again, knowing that he'd get the message. Meanwhile I called my friend to see if she had the embassy doctor's number. She did, and her husband was coming home to pick her up for a happy hour at the Marine house; did I need a ride? Why yes, I did. Brandon had taken the car to work that morning and was now unreachable in a meeting.
While on the phone, Brandon sent me a text. Later he told how he had to awkwardly leave the most important meeting with the most important official that had disallowed all cell phones to figure out who had died. Was this an emergency? Why yes, it was. Within a few minutes, mobile patrol had been sent out, my housekeeper had been dispatched, and the remaining children were given instructions on dinner, pajamas and a movie. Joseph had been cleaned up, put in a new shirt, and bandaged up for our short drive to the embassy. He was far past the trauma of having injured himself and heartily enjoyed his impromptu field trip in the mobile patrol car.
We marched into the embassy and found the doctor waiting for us. He looked at Joseph's chin and announced that Joseph needed stitches. I sat and filled out paperwork while the doctor carefully wrapped Joseph in a blanket, taped him to the bed in the exam room, and got to work cleaning out the cut, injecting anaesthetic, and stitching him up. Joseph didn't care much for the pokes, but grew bored by the end of the stitches, making 'mouse' and 'goldfish' noises every time he was told to stop talking and hold still.
One of my earliest memories is of falling off the monkey bars when I was about Joseph's age. My mother had a meeting one morning at church and left me outside to play on the playground where I decided that now was the time to learn to hang upside down. I still remember raising a bloody ruckus in the emergency room and feeling sheepish when I couldn't feel anything but a strange pulling sensation as the doctor stitched up my head.
As I watched the doctor carefully tying each of Joseph's seven stitches, my thoughts drifted back to that memory, a permanent part of my life. I thought how Joseph would always remember the feel of the scratchy blanket wrapped around him as the tape held him down while the doctor with a calm voice pulled the thread through his chin. Whenever he fingers the inch-long scar on his chin he will remember Tajikistan and the embassy and the black mobile patrol car on one cold February evening.
When everything was finished, we hitched a ride home with mobile patrol. Joseph was immediately surrounded when we walked in the door as everyone fought to get a view of his blue stitches. I gratefully sent my housekeeper home, and set about getting some dinner for Joseph and myself before sending Joseph off to bed along with everyone else.
Medical emergency number one, completed. I wonder what will come next?