The firefighter said, "You're remarkably calm for a man whose son just got his head stuck in a concrete staircase."
I sat there, my son Aidan on my lap -- well, at least the part that was not stuck in a concrete staircase -- and smiled. I wanted the firefighter to think I was one of those stoic dads who handles any pressure, but the truth was this just wasn't unusual. Maybe it was 11 years of parenting but by the third time I'd changed a colostomy bag, the world lost its horror.
Maybe it's the fact that all the children we have fostered were born drug-exposed. Maybe not. But sometime after Zane and Aidan threw all the pencils into the microwave, or set off the fire alarm in church, or told off the chief of police, or shut down the baseball stadium, I lost the ability to be shocked.
I have no idea how the parents of normal children spend their evenings. I only know that my nights are spent getting gum out of the dog's fur and chocolate syrup off of the sofa cushions.
Two years ago, a woman offered me a free dog. The boys had seen him in the pet shop where we bought dog food. Turned out the dog was born with a bone defect. The woman said, "If you and your husband can care for these two ADHD boys and those three dogs, then adding in a crippled puppy won't really make a difference." On the Island of Lost Boys, all are welcome.
As Aidan and I sat in the cool evening air, waiting for the Jaws of Life, I said, "Aidan, I'm gonna press your ears in, and with my arm I'm gonna push up on the rebar. When I say 'Go', you slide back to me, and if this works, you can have ice cream for dinner." Five minutes later, we were on our way to Mitchell's.
We all get stuck on the staircase sometimes, and all we need is a little help to step up.