Incredibly true stories from the Perea Household: Tales from the run

For years the Perea family has run the Bolder Boulder. It is a family tradition, but our two youngest children have never joined us before. After years of curiosity, our middle child, the actress, begged to join the more athletic members of our family to see what all the fuss was about. The story of her adventure is provided below.
Right Before the run
Piper: Oh no, my legs are itchy, I think I am allergic to something. Ahhhhh. [We stop at Walgreen's and buy chewable Benadryl. She takes one, and I tuck a 2nd in my sock in case it doesn't work. We check our stuff in to the mobile locker and head to the starting line.]
Starting line
Mom: [Hugging Dad and big sister] Ok, you two, good luck! Don't worry about me and Piper, we will just meet you in the same spot as last year at the end.
Piper: I am so excited!! This should be fun. I am also a little nervous.
1K marker
Piper: Hey!! We made it to the 1 mile marker. Cool. That wasn't so bad, only 5 more to go.
Mom: Uh...yeah, that's the 1K marker. We have to do 9 more of those. [Piper shakes off her incredulous stare and moves forward, thoroughly disgusted]
1 Mile marker
Piper: Oh no. We have only gone one mile?! [starts to cry] I am just so itchy I can't stand it. It's driving me crazy.
Mom: Do you want to quit? Or should we take the 2nd Benadryl and see what happens.
Piper: Let's do the the Benadryl. I can do this. Dad says if I start the race, I have to finish. Let's go. [dries tears, takes pill, soldiers on]
Mile 2
Piper: Mom, my itchies are gone, but now my feet and knees hurt [starts crying again] I mean really, really hurt.
Mom: [sitting her down on the curb] Look there are some firemen over there, let's ask for a short cut to the stadium, maybe this wasn't a great plan.
Piper: NO! Dad says you can't quit once you start something, I just need a minute...I can do this.
Mile 3 [after walking slowly in silence for 27 minutes]
Mom: Piper? Are you ok? Honey, oh...are you still crying? Babe, we do NOT have to do this. There is no shame in calling it if you are hurting yourself.
Piper: Nope. Keep walking
Mile 4
Piper: [louder crying and yanking on her dress- clearly her sensory issues have kicked in] Oh Mom, my dress it is driving me crazy. It feels funny. I forgot a change of clothes. I can't stand these socks and shoes anymore. Ahhhhhhhh. Can you walk with your hand right here in my neckline. It feels better away from my skin but my hands are getting tired from holding it out. 
Mom: Yeah...sorry, but I am not going to walk down the street with my hand down your shirt. That just wouldn't look good and I am just not doing it. You are out of luck on that one darling. But we can quit anytime you want. Really. You don't have to prove anything to us. I am already proud of you. 
Piper: NO!! I said I was finishing and I am finishing.
Mom: All right. Let's soldier on....[5 minutes later, just after the 7K marker] Oh crap, do you see who is behind us? Those people in the orange shirts are the course cut off pace walkers. If we don't finish ahead of them, we get cut off from the stadium. If that happens we may have to walk longer to get to Dad and Talia. You know what? Here, hop on my back.
8K marker
Mom; *Groaning* Smile for the cameras darling. I want proof that this is actually happening.
Piper: Thank you so much Mom. I am starting to feel better.
8 1/2 K
Mom: Oh my lord, I have got to put you down. My legs are starting to feel like jelly. [sudden loss of 85 pounds causes excessive flailing around, much like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz as the muscles adjust to loss of pressure.]
Piper: Mom!! Are you ok!?!
Mom: Yep, just let me get my legs under me.
Just shy of 9K
Piper: Mom, there is a bathroom. I have to go.
Mom: Ok, we can both go, but quickly, those orange shirts aren't that far behind us....[waiting outside]...Piper? Honey? You have got to hurry up, the orange pacer people are....Oh no, there they are! Piper, they are here, we have got to hurry!
Piper: [bursting out of the bathroom, dress hitched up, yanking up her shorts with a fierce look of determination] We can DO this!!!! Come on mom, I feel better. Let's run! [takes off]
Mom: [standing there in shock] Um. What? [after running about 100 feet] Wait! Piper! Slow down! Mommy's asthma can't take this *gasp* *gasp*
Mom: Oh lord! Ok Piper, let's run. 
Mom: Piper *gasp* Look. Those are the world class runners. *gasp* They will be where we are in about 20 minutes.
Piper: WOW! That is crazy fast. I guess we better hurry.
Mile 6
Piper: Mom!! It's the finish line! We made it.
Mom: *gasp* Oh *gasp* no. *gasp* That's the *gasp* last mile *gasp* marker. The race *gasp* is 6.2 miles. 
Piper: Where's the finish line then?
Mom: In the *gasp* stadium.
Piper: WHAT!? I can't make it that far.
Mom: Well, *deep breath* we don't have to run *deep breath* anymore. We are past the kick off point *deep breath* We made it to the stadium.
10 K
[Two figures slowly drag themselves over the finish line, smiling watery smiles "for the cameras" not unlike figures from a movie with slow moving zombies.]
The Finish
Shane: Hey! There you guys are. We have been here for about an hour....[smile fading] um, how did it go?
Mom: *blank stare accompanied by heavy breathing*
Piper: I did it Dad!! I did it!! I actually finished the race. I didn't think I was going to make it, but I did!! I am so proud of myself! Can you believe it?
Shane: That is so amazing. I am so proud of you, honey. Hey, is Mommy ok?
Piper: Yeah, she is just tired because she had to carry me and then she had to run a lot.
Shane: [arches one eyebrow] Do you want to talk about it Mom?
Mom: [Tears welling up, shakes head] I'll save it for Incredibly True Stories.
Epilogue- The Car Ride Home
Piper: You know, I always wondered what the Bolder Boulder was like. I am really glad I did it, but I think I'll probably skip it next year. It seems like way too much work.
Mom: Sounds good. Zzzzzz.......
Before the race, when we were all fresh faced and hopeful.

Jokes with Talia

My oldest daughter has what we affectionately term a "developing sense of humor." She is delightfully logical and studiously serious most of the time. This is what makes her recent obsession with joke books that much more enjoyable.

Talia : I have a joke for you. .. why did the toilet paper roll down the hill?
Shane : Gravity!
Talia: No Dad. It's a joke.
Shane: But it's true. Gravity is why it is rolling downhill. The rest is irrelevant ....
Talia: Aaaaagggghhhh... to get to the BOTTOM.
Shane: Right. With gravity.

Talia: What kind of reptile tells on his friends?
Mom: A not very nice one.
Talia: No Mom. Well, yes...but no.
Mom:Ok, what kind?...
Talia: A tattlesnake.

Talia: What did one dog say to another?
Me: I had a "rrruff" day? *laughs hysterically*
Talia: No Mom. *sighs* it says "I can lick you at anytime."
Me: Nope. Mine is funnier.

Then Talia got a new joke book. Her first joke: Why did the elephant paint his toes red?
Mom: To scare the mouse
Dad: To look pretty
Talia: No. So he could hide in the cherry tree...
Dad: That makes no sense

*Same night. Piper convinces Talia to let her tell some jokes from her book*
Piper: Why was the porcupine wearing red boots?
Dad: So he could hide in the cherry tree
Talia: (hollers from the other room) AAAAHHH! DA-AD!
Piper: No, because his brown ones were being repaired.
Dad: Interesting.
Piper: Why was the goldfish red?
Dad and Mom together: SO HE COULD HIDE IN THE CHERRY TREE!!!
T: (stomping in utterly disgusted) Come on Piper, they aren't allowed to have anymore jokes tonight. Let's go to bed.
(p.s the answer is the goldfish rusted)

And then, the next day....
Talia: Why did the elephant paint himself different colors?
Dad: Ooh, I know this one! To hide in the cherry tree!
Talia: (deadpan stare) Seriously Dad? I said different colors.
Dad: Maybe there are blue cherries....
Mom: Or green and yellow cherries....
Talia:You guys have failed me. The answer was, to hide in the crayon box.
Mom: (stifling hysterical laughter) Oh. I see. Yes. That is different.

Talia: What do polar bears eat for know what? Never mind. I think we should move on. I don't really think Mom will like this one.
Me: Wait why? What's the answer?
Talia: An Eskimo pie.

Talia: What do you get when you cross a mouse and a ghost?
Me: I don't know. What?
Talia : A cari-boo
Me: What?!? Let me see that book. Talia, It's not a mouse. It is what do you get when you cross a MOOSE and a ghost?...
Talia: Oh....moving on....

Talia.: What happened after the mare broke her leg?
Me: She couldn't run for office .
Talia: That makes no sense.
Me: What do you mean? It makes perfect sense. ...
Talia: No. The answer is, she was in stable condition. Get it? *laughs* Stable?
Me: ???? Oh.... Does the book say m.a.r.e or m.a.y.o r?
Talia : m.a.r.e. you know, like a girl horse?
Me: Ok, that does make more sense. I thought you said mayor. But make sure to write mine down because I am hilarious.
Talia : *rolls eyes and walks off*

Dear Internet, Safety is an Illusion

Dear Internet,
About the Cincinnati Zoo incident. [Or Insert latest media story involving a child]
I understand. I understand you are angry that a gorilla had to be shot. That is sad.
I understand that you believe in your heart of hearts that the child must have been unsupervised in order to land himself in that situation.
I am here to tell you something you may not have realized before. You are not in control of your thoughts. The fact is you are reflexively parroting our American belief system that if a child is hurt, in danger, or killed for any reason….any reason, then this must be, by definition, someone’s…anyone’s fault.
You may not realize it but somewhere along the line most of us (yes, even me!) have fallen into the crusade for a zero percent mortality rate. This is the belief that if we all just follow the rules, or make enough rules, or supervise our children enough, than it is possible to reach a perfect 0% rate of mortality for children.
Is it tragic when a child is hurt or killed? Yes! Absolutely!
Is it automatically criminal, or someone’s fault? NO!
And yet we feel a desperate need to spin every child death, every child accident and every child endangerment into some sort of preventable tragedy. We have a need to do this because it makes us feel like we are in control. Americans have a long-term, shared belief system that if we just work hard enough we can become rich and “make it” in the world. This belief in the control over our own circumstances spills over into every facet of our lives. If we just legislate safety enough, maintain enough supervision or protect our children from enough things- then we will never have to face the possibility of losing one.
News Flash: This. Is. A. Lie.
It is a horrible, unpleasant thing to think about, but children die. Children disappear from even the most watchful parent and get themselves into mischief every day.
We often wrongly assume that children are passive players in this scenario. Many of those children are actively watching for that one second, the one tiny opportunity to slip away and explore somewhere or do something forbidden. The tighter we crack down, the more those children are going to be watching us- waiting to exploit that one distracted moment.
Just like an oppressive regime that eventually loses control of its people, so are the children of helicopter parents. They are waiting, ever watchful of that single moment in time when Mom has to tend to another child’s needs, or is distracted by the phone or another adult. And in that moment, they will slip away.
But, that isn’t how we treat these parents afterwards. Oh no. God forbid your child be injured or taken from you by death.
Understand this. The mere fact of child loss is all that is required. Just as my friend who lost her 2 year old in a parking lot- standing exactly where he was asked to stand. The minute the news reported the mere fact that it happened was the very same minute that the condemnation started flooding in. Assumption that he had run into the street. Assumption that he hadn’t been holding hands. Assumptions, assumptions, assumptions. All of it proceeding the worst and most horrific condemnation. My friend’s family, facing the worst grief imaginable, began having to defend themselves daily against a world that felt compelled to shout that it was all their fault.
The nightmare is more than anyone can imagine.
So to all the individuals out there making “funny” memes about this family’s near tragedy, or any other child tragedy for that matter, understand this: the only thing separating you from this kind of judgement is coincidence. Safety is an illusion. Childhood is risk. Good parenting is no inoculation to tragedy. Sometimes accidents are just that. Accidents.
And to anyone who might disagree with me, I challenge to you find me ONE- just one article about a child who has died from something other than illness like cancer or the flu where the parents haven’t been questioned, charged or justice demanded in the court of opinion. Find me one where a lawsuit or non-profit hasn’t sprung up to re-write laws to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again, “if it saves a single life, it will be worth it.”
You can’t. Because we need someone to blame. We need to spin that tragedy into a preventable one. Because if we don’t, we all have to face the truly terrifying fact that no one is immune. No one is safe.
Instead I challenge us all to read a story about an accident involving a child and either hold our tongue or simply post, "I am so sorry this happened." Because how we treat struggling, grieving families is how we will in turn be treated if, God forbid, tragedy ever strikes us.

A “Good” Mom (read: A Lucky Mom)