Let us all give thanks to Rico, for inspiring this little stroll down memory lane...
The scene: my childhood home in master-planned suburbia, circa 1993
The principal players: my youngest brother, myself, my mother, and a large handful of very helpful ambulance and hospital staff
It's funny how things can be so important at the time, but later you can't even remember the details. Like what school assignment I thought so important as to lock myself away in my bedroom while "babysitting" my four younger siblings, three of whom are boys, so my mom could do a bit of long-awaited and much-deserved shopping over this particular Christmas break.
Growing up with five children in the family, there was truly never a dull moment. Our house was always full of people and often full of noise, because we lived in the cool house. A trampoline in the big backyard. A pool less than 100 yards down the street. Cable. A constantly growing movie collection. Every Nintendo game known to child-kind. A pool table. A built-in basketball court on the driveway. A pantry and refrigerator stocked with all manner of goodies.
So I didn't find the noise of our full house on this particular day distracting. I was in my room, drowning out the pandemonium that could be heard throughout the rest of the house with my music and tending to my very important school project, as all good babysitters should do. But then, insolence! I was interrupted.
"Nikki!" screamed my youngest brother. "I got a splinter in my leg -- come help me!"
"Don't be such a baby!" I screamed back. "Go get the tweezers and take it out yourself!"
"But it's really big and it hurts really bad -- I need your help!" he insisted.
The nerve! I stormed out of my room to the entry hallway, where he and several other kids who could have been his friends or my other brothers (I can't remember) had been running and sliding on our hardwood floors. Remember how at age 10 we could find fun (and trouble) in the simplest things?
"Let me see it. I can't believe you're being such a baby."
So he proceeded to pull up the leg of his sweatpants to show me this "splinter."
And then... Stomach. In my throat. Room. Spinning. Blackness. Stars.
When I regained full consciousness, I saw a foot-long stick piercing my brother's leg. Yes, you read that right: PIERCING. It went in his knee and came out his calf.
You see, in California we have earthquakes. Big ones, sometimes. And occasionally, things settle. Like the ground. Or the boards comprising our hardwood floors. And when sliding on said floors, one must be careful not to catch an edge.
So I ran to the phone and called 9-1-1. They must've thought I was crazy.
911 Operator: 9-1-1, what is your emergency?
Me: My little brother has a splinter in his leg.
911: A splinter?
Me: Well, not really a splinter. More like a stick.
911: A stick? In his leg?
Me: Yes, it went right through his leg. From the knee to the calf. And it's stuck inside, sticking out both places.
Me: Um, I'm pretty sure we need to go to the hospital to have it removed. We live at [insert address].
The ambulance arrived mere seconds before my mom got back. Now I'm not a mother or anything, but I'm pretty sure an ambulance in front of your house isn't exactly what you want to see when you return home.
But the story ends well. My parents went with my brother to the emergency room, where they had to do surgery to take the stick out. In three pieces. Of course, this left me to continue babysitting the other kids. Because, clearly, I was responsible enough to be trusted with that again.
Like I said, never a dull moment at my house.