Instinct and adrenaline are powerful things. Especially when it comes to emergency situations.
Dad saves. Women lifting cars off of their children. Men leaping out of multistoried buildings to avoid vague questions from their wives about clothes and fatness. When your “spidey sense” is tingling and you have raw power coursing through your veins, there is nothing that can stop you.
Recently my two-year-old son Roman found out what this looks like.
Dinner time had rolled around and the kids were at the table waiting for Charity and I to bring them their plates of food, like royal servants. I had given them drinks and for a moment they were all quiet. My wife and I always take opportunities like this to talk to each other. It usually only lasts long enough to get a few sentences in before the kids realize that their parents are speaking to one another, and that they can’t allow for that kind of nonsense.
It’s fun trying to tell a story in 30 second intervals, over the course of three hours.
We stood in the kitchen and reveled in the brief gift of communication as the kids busied themselves. Charity was rationing food onto plates and I was clearing the island when I glanced over at the dinner table. Our girls were coloring and chatting with each other. Remy, our one-year-old, sat patiently while he observed his older brother Roman, who had a smile on his face and a glass of water poised over his head. He started to tip it, ALS-Ice-Bucket-Challenge style.
Why he wanted to dump water on himself, I don’t know. I’ve stopped trying to guess what he’s thinking. I do know what I was thinking though. Are you insane?! Why would you drench yourself knowing full well that you have no concept of how to dry you, the table, or the floor?! Why are you two years old?! You’re only making more work for me. Jerk move man…
As I was processing all this I felt a pen in my hand. A capped purple gel pen that the girls use for art. I had been clearing the island and was about to drop it in the junk drawer when its smooth plastic exterior felt like destiny in my grip.
The tipping cup was imminent. The water lapped at the rim. I yelled, “ROMAN STOP!” Of course he didn’t, he’d come this far right? I yelled for him to stop one more time and then instinct and adrenaline took over. All of a sudden I was a mama bear protecting her young. And by “mama bear” I mean “papa bear”, and by “young” I mean my dry floors. I was half-way across the room with a big island in between us. I needed to stop him and no longer had control of my body.
My fingers flicked the pen.
It somersaulted through the air. Its trajectory was perfect. I don’t think I have ever thrown a pen as accurately in my whole life. It bounced squarely off his temple which greatly startled him because, of all the things that he thought might happen in that moment, his dad beaning him in the head with a writing instrument wasn’t one of them. This in turn caused him to lose his concentration on the glass.
You know those time travel movies where they go back to prevent a terrible event but end up creating it?
The glass tipped over, soaking Roman’s head and clothes in water and betrayal. He started to cry. Maybe the flying pen hurt a little—doubt it, his head is built like a Buick. Maybe the fact that his father threw it hurt a little. Maybe he didn’t realize how wet water was. Maybe all of the above. Regardless, I now had a wet, crying child on top of wet carpet.
When I regained control of my faculties I immediately felt terrible. I pulled a towel off the oven handlebar and went over to dry him off and apologize.
Charity had to duck behind the island because she was laughing so hard.
It’s often said to go with your instinct. Next time I’ll try to make sure I’m not holding a pen when I do.