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April 5, 2009

The day started off badly enough. I wasn’t feeling so hot — one too many gin and tonics the night before. But I roused myself up to go to the Great Green Bike Ride, part of the New Orleans Earth Day Festival. I was there to represent FOLC, as the Lafitte Corridor was the first stop on the ride. but it turns out I needn’t have bothered, as Daniel was there, and not being hungover he spoke to the group.

Daniel Speaks

I didn’t do much more of the ride, peeling off from the group in Treme and heading back home.

Little did I know that I was carrying a hitchhiker, a buckmoth caterpillar. In all my years here I’ve seen a jillion of these nasty critters, but I have never felt their dreaded sting. That was about to change, alas. But I was blissfully ignorant of what lay in store for me. I came home and soon was carrying my daughter on my hip. The caterpillar was riding on my hip as well, and it stung Persephone’s ankles, but she didn’t complain. Then we sat down and started playing on the floor. I felt a stinging sensation on my elbow, and that’s when I saw the bristly little worm.

I kind of freaked out. I flushed the caterpillar down the toilet and used tape to remove any bristles still in my flesh, then used a bag of frozen peas to take the swelling down. I wasn’t tending to Persephone’s sting because I wasn’t yet aware that she’d been stung. Instead, I put a leftover cup of coffee in the microwave.

Persephone was toddling down the hall toward the kitchen. I turned from the microwave to see if the gate at the top of the stairs was shut — it wasn’t — and Persephone had just stepped over the edge — she was falling down the steps — I screamed and ran down after her but she kept tumbling — all the way down to the bottom!

It’s a terrible thing to see your baby fall down a flight of stairs. I hope I never see anything like that again. I’m afraid this image will fill my nightmares for years to come.

The truly bizarre thing is this: She wasn’t hurt. Not even bruised. I guess fifteen small little falls don’t necessarily add up to much. Oh, she was shook up and howled for a while, and of course I was scared to death she’d broken her neck or her arm or got a concussion. But upon close examination, we realized she was fine. That’s how we discovered the caterpillar stings on her ankles, which we treated with tape, ice, and a poultice of baking soda and water. The sting was worse than the fall.

So that was one hell of a morning. The rest of the day was blissfully uneventful: a trip to the grocery, painting the deck, a stroll to the bayou to check out the Earth Day Festival.

I’m so relieved she wasn’t hurt, and so horrified by the thought of what might have been.

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  1. Lee Lee

    I’m sorry to hear about the bad day, I’m glad to hear that Persephone is okay. Such is the hazard of having a multi-level home. I will soon learn that myself!

  2. David David

    I’m so glad to hear lil P (and you) are OK. Naturally, you want to prevent accidents, but just as naturally, accidents are unavoidable. Kids are tougher than we think.

    BTW, I just commented on an old photo of your on flikr. Will you see the comment?

  3. My son had many accidents as a little little one, one of which was indeed an emergency room event. I’m glad you and Persephone were spared that.

    The buckmoth caterpillar barbs will be in there for a while if they haven’t already been fully removed with the tape. The pain is over, at least. Got stung by one of those suckers a while back when it dropped on my purse. I HATE those things.

    Y’all be well, and keep things as calm as possible for a bit.

  4. Logan fell down a flight of metal stairs when he was about 18 months. Those things happen. I actually ran down the stairs so fast that I caught him before he hit the concrete pavement! After a trip to the ER to check him out, he was fine.

    BTW When I ran down the stairs to catch him I was in my underwear. There I stood, in my underwear, outside, by the tennis courts and playground at the seminary.

    Hang in there.

  5. David David

    My prior comment is not meant to minimize the shock of the baby rolling down the stairs. I gasped when I read it, too.

  6. Oh man–what a day. That’s awful. I think the only thing worse than seeing your baby fall down a flight of stairs is HEARING your baby fall down the stairs. I was in the bathroom once when I heard the unmistakable thump-thump-thump and had a million nightmare scenarios run through my head. Sydney was absolutely fine but I was shook up for days afterward.

    Hang in there! Hope today is better.

  7. pam pam

    scary! glad she’s okay from both incidents. i’m not looking forward to keeping three toddlers from the caterpillars this spring. blech.

  8. Glad P. is okay. Babies are reslient, aren’t they? I had the same experience as chrissieroux, not seeing but hearing my (now 21 year old) daughter roll down about 18 stairs. I can still hear each hit, it’s a horrific experience.

  9. Persephone Persephone

    Yeah Dad that wasn’t much fun, but I won’t be falling down the next time. Thanks for taking cate of the buckmoth bite all the same.

  10. Grandma Ruth Grandma Ruth

    Perhaps it’s time to teach young Persephone the art of crawling down the stair steps. As you know, Bart, you and your sister were raised in a two level home. I remember the fall Nancy had down the stairs. Can’t recall that you ever did, but I think you fell off the dressing table!
    Toddlers can learn to back down the stairs on their hands and knees long before they are able to walk down. But they have to be shown how to do it. So, tonight or later this week, get on your hands and knees with Persephone in front of you and back your way down the stairs. Good luck!

  11. Thanks, Mom. Actually I have tried this but she didn’t seem receptive. I’ll keep after it, though. As for me, I don’t think I fell down the steps at home, but I did up on the farm, and was caught by an aunt. Or so I’ve been told.

  12. spab spab

    Oh man, the first time Julian feel off the bed, I thought I had died right there. Thought he was injured or had a broken neck. No, nothing was wrong, not even a bump. Julian also tried walking down the stairs and Sonya caught his legs, but his nose hit the tuff carpet and he got a bloody face. Perhaps if he had tumbled, he might have been ok, but that’s not something anyone would let see happen.

    Injuries are definitely something I never factored into being a parent, but damn, it’s a big part of it at these wee ages. In just a second, your kid can fall off the couch or tumble down stairs or smack his face on a wall. I got to be more zen about it, cause it pains me to see them get hurt.

  13. Hi, Editor B! I haven’t read all the comments above, so maybe this has been suggested, but you could just keep the gate permanently fastened, and you and Xy just step over it from now on. Though that has its own perils, I suppose, like if you’re carrying Proserpina and you lose your balance while stepping. Ack. Sorry I said that. Never happen. Actually something similar happened with Mary Ann (remember her from Collins) but our daughter was just fine after the fall.

    Hey, off topic … I’ve forgotten what your need for a Brother word processor was, but after I read the applicable post, I created an eBay “saved search” to notify me whenever something Brotherly was being sold. And there’s a hit … … I don’t know if it would help you to buy another Brother system, but this is a chance to do that if it would be helpful. –VG.

  14. Brenda Helverson Brenda Helverson

    One of my earliest memories is falling down a set of wooden stairs. My aunt had her basement door closed but I opened it and dived right in. I remember being startled but I wasn’t hurt. I suppose that its just part of being a kid.

  15. rickngentilly rickngentilly

    jesus man you need to go say a novena or what ever your choice of thanks is to the gods.

    rum , flowers , animal sacrifice at the grill (my personal favorite) maybe “allah” the above.

    between the pitbull kiss and the kid going down the stairs you gotta tabla rasa.

    my mom to this day still feels bad 48 years later when i was a wee tot and slipped on a wet driveway while she was holding my hand.

    the freak conclusion was the way she was holding my hand and compensated for my fall i wound up breaking my ankle and being a baby in diapers with a cast and a brace between my two legs to keep my baby self from messing up the healing.

    it was the early 60’s im sure there are better treatments now.

    plant your self a papaya tree .

    the papya enzyme will extract any toxin on the skin.

    them buckmoths are at an all time high this year.

    be wary .

    it’s a trip judgeing from the comments how commen this is (the baby falling thing

    kids must be hardwired to fall like a stuntman.

    take care yall.

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