Of all the genes I could have passed along to my children, the two I hoped would at least end up being recessive are those responsible for my extreme lack of pigment and random nose bleeds.
Sunburns are no fun, take it from me. Some people spray on a light coating of SPF 10 or 15. I encase myself in SPF 70 and allow the required time for it to soak in. My Lovely Wife still can't believe I got a sunburn at the State Fair in October almost 20 years ago when we started dating.
Fortunately, our daughter browns better than a buttered turkey in a 400-degree oven. And the boys, despite their apparent paleness, both aquire moderate tans during the summer months.
As for nose bleeds, I had some doozies when I was a kid. One time in high school, just before the homeroom bell rang, a gusher came on and there wasn't a tissue in sight. I walked the length of the building to the nurse's office trying not to bleed on anyone, occasionally taking advantage of the situation to gross out a few friends along the way.
Unfortunately, the Italian seems to be carrying on the tradition of the bleeding nose.
Evening hours seem to be his shnoz's favorite time of day to let it flow. For the most part, the problem is easy to deal with and far less disgusting to clean up than the average upchuck, which occurs far more freqently than bloody noses do. I venture to guess I've cleaned more vomit off floors, out of carpets and bed sheets and clothes, out of buckets, and off the backs of toilets than a janitor in a bulemia clinic.
When she was two or three years old, our Darling Daughter projectile-vomited several pounds of fishy crackers across a room, nailing my Lovely Wife square in the chest and almost destroying a shag carpet. We spent hours cleaning up that unholy mess. Thank goodness it didn't happen in our house...
In fact, the nose bleed is a no brainer by comparison. Sit the child on the edge of the bathtub, lean his head forward a little, pinch the bridge of the nose, and wait for it to stop.
A few months ago, the Italian got out of bed with a nose bleed and wandered into our bedroom with his hands up to his face. In his short pajamas, and with his complete lack of insular body fat, he sat in the bathroom shivering while we tried to stop the bleeding. I offered to get him something to keep him warm but he didn't want me to leave his side. So, I did the next best thing -- I took off my socks and put them on his feet.
It was one of those moments when you wish you had a camera, because you know you will never be able to recreate the moment, not that you would really want to if you could but you know what I mean. There he was, in shorts and t-shirt, eyelids hanging heavy over tired brown eyes, holding a tissue under his nose, giant white socks pulled halfway up his thighs, and a dreamy smile on his little face. He still had them on the next morning at breakfast.
I much prefer that image to the one that woke me a few nights ago around 1:30am from a deep slumber.
My eyes slowly adjusted to the light from the television. I had been asleep for less than an hour, having worked late into the night writing my book. My mind was struggling just to figure out where I was when I felt a nudge at my back. I turned over to find the Italian hovering over me, looking like an extra from a zombie movie. Blood covered the fronts and backs of his hands and his entire face was smeared red.
I like to think I don't frighten too easily, but I have to admit I found myself struggling to remember how to spell 9-1-1. I've seen dying snake-bite vicitms on the Discovery Channel who looked healthier than this nine-year-old, blood-stained boy standing at my bedside.
Getting him cleaned up, stopping the bleeding, and tucking him back in bed without waking anyone else in the house was easy. Getting myself back to sleep was the hard part.
(c) 2011 Mark Feggeler