I think I was about 15 when I discovered that I was a really bad babysitter. I had been watching a couple of older kids of about seven and ten and I had taken them on a walk through the woods, something my friends and I did quite a lot. We ran down the giant hill and entered the forest to our left… to our right was the Schneider’s veggie garden and that horrible treehouse that Laura’s dad had built her that was infested with red ants. Despite the red ants, we played in that thing all the time and the welts we had covering our tanned bodies were worth the fun we had.
To the left of the garden was the entrance into the woods and just a few feet in was an old, rickety bridge that our feet pounded across without fear. Under the bridge was the rocky remains of the creek that used to run below but had somehow moved deeper into the woods and across on the other side was the path.
If you followed the path about a hundred feet in then you would come to what we called a ravine although it wasn’t so much a ravine as it was the larger part of the creek that had dried up. I’d say it was about fifteen feet across and the bottom of it was filled with large rocks. The trees that hung over it were extremely vine-ey and one of the vines was obviously used by my friends and I to swing across. It had duct tape wrapped around it that had been on there from years ago when, as smaller kids, we had laughed and squealed as we swung across.
It had been a few years since those days when I took the kids I was babysitting for down through the woods and when we came across the ravine they wanted to swing it. At first, I told them no because I didn’t want to be responsible for one of them getting hurt but they begged and pleaded with me until I finally said, “Okay… but let me go first to make sure the thing can still hold weight.” They agreed and stood on the sidelines looking gleeful as I grabbed hold of the vine, took a few steps back and leapt off the side.
Mid swing the old ass duct tape slid right off the vine with me sliding off along with it. I hit the rocks below full force on my right side and heard the snaps and cracks of my full weight landing on the right arm that was underneath me. The first thing I thought was that the sounds were coming from the twigs and rocks I had landed on and I went with that as I stood up to assess the damage. My arm and shoulder were hurting but they seemed okay and so I shook it off. The kids thought the whole thing was rather wicked and decided that they didn’t want to swing after all and so we went back up the hill and grabbed a red wagon and took turns flying down the hill as though we were sledding in the summertime.
Later that night, I complained to my parents that my shit was hurting and my mom had a look and declared that I was good to go. The next day, I was extremely sore and took my ass to school thinking that I was going to have a hell of a bruise by the end of the day. By second period English class, my hand had started acting funny and I kept involuntarily dropping my pencil. My forearm had grown what looked like a huge bump on it and I thought maybe it was starting to swell up a bit. I ignored it, wrote with my left hand and then moved on to third period gym class.
We played dodgeball and I will always remember this day because little Steve Lambrinidis (heir to the Skyline Chili throne) had been hit directly in the back of the feet with a dodgeball and it had completely knocked him on his ass. We had had a good laugh. I was busy sort of nursing my right arm and wasn’t putting much effort behind my throws and this was noticed by my gym teacher who called me over and examined my arm. I was sent to the nurse who looked a little sketchy and asked me what happened. I told her and she called my dad and told him he needed to take me to the hospital because she suspected my arm was broken.
Dad was pissed. He basically yelled at me for the entire drive to the hospital. I was upset that I was being yelled at and he didn’t much let up. I heard it all the way up until the doctor came back with the results of my x-rays.
I had a broken shoulder, a fractured collarbone, a dislocated elbow, a broken forearm and a broken wrist. I had turned cartwheels and carried kids with this arm. I had rollerbladed, played dodgeball and fallen over off a wagon going quickly down a hill. I was in pain but had convinced myself that nothing was wrong.
The doctor reset my arm and put it back together again and I was stuck in a sling and a cast for a while. It was extremely weird to have that much damage done to my body without me even knowing it.
My dad was still pissed. I, however, healed up and then the following summer replaced the duct tape on the vine and kept on swingin’.
Anyway… that’s my memory.