• Perils of the Urban Jungle

    The boys disappeared after school one day last week and returned, wheezing, dragging long poles of bamboo.

    “We found a jungle down the street,” Porter said.  “There’s tons of bamboo, and we used to want a tree house but now we’ve decided to build a hut.”

    “We’ll need more bamboo, though.  We don’t even have enough for one wall,” Drew pointed out.

    “That’s okay.  The jungle was huge and bamboo grows fast.”

    “Where is the jungle?” I asked.

    “Just down the street,” Drew said.  “Not next door but really close, which is good, because some of those poles are probably ten feet long.”

    I looked outside.  He wasn’t exaggerating.


    Although we’ve been in this house for eleven years and I’ve never seen a jungle nearby, I wasn’t that concerned about the boys harvesting bamboo from someone else’s land.  They’ll stick with an activity for an afternoon or so, but I didn’t foresee them gathering so much that anyone would notice.  I underestimated their desire for a bamboo hut, though, and by the fourth day they’d gathered enough to cover the deck.

    At that point, however, I was invested in the project.  The boys had spent hours visiting the jungle and returning laden with bamboo.  As a result,  I’d had four of the most peaceful afternoons I could remember.  They’d been worn out and ready for bed earlier, too.  I considered proposing a two-story hut, and maybe a sunporch.

    One day I left my builders so I could go see my therapist.

    During the session, my phone rang.

    “Mom, Porter was whittling a bamboo knife and he cut his thumb and it’s bleeding all over the place,” Finn said.

    I grimaced.  It was rush hour and it would take me a while to get home.

    “Listen to me,” I said.  “Wrap his thumb in one of my old kitchen towels and hold it on there tightly.  Now give Drew the phone while you do that.”

    “Hey Mom,” Drew said.

    “Hey baby.  I need you to be strong because your brothers get woozy when they see blood.”

    “Yeah, Porter’s already acting like he’s dizzy.”

    “Okay.  I want you to do two things.  Get two blankets, and put one on top of the sofa, and then you’ll use the other one for covers when you and Finn walk Porter to the sofa to lie down.”

    “Yes ma’am.”

    “The second thing is that I want you to get him a glass of ice water and put it by the sofa and make sure he drinks it.”

    “Why do you always give us ice water no matter what is wrong?”

    “It cures everything,” I said.  “Now you get the blankets and the water, and hand the phone to Porter.”

    “Hey,” Porter said in a tragic voice.

    “Hey sweetie.  You’re being really brave, and your brothers know just what to do.  They’re going to move you to the sofa and give you some water and I want you to keep that towel around your thumb.”

    “I will.  But I think all my blood is draining out.”

    “It is not,” I heard Finn say in the background.  “You’re totally exaggerating.  It’s barely bleeding anymore.”

    “Porter, I promise you that all your blood is not going to drain out.  I love you, and put Finn on the phone,” I said.

    “Mom, his blood is not draining out.  He’d be dead if that was happening and we’d be calling 911, not talking to you.”

    “Dude, remember that he’s the patient and you need to make a fuss over him.  Help him to the sofa and sit with him until I get home,” I told Finn.

    By that time my session was almost over and my therapist and I had barely scratched the surface of my childhood wounds, but I had others to deal with.

    When I got home, the boys were in the den.  Porter was lying on the sofa and Drew was forcing water down his throat.  Finn had put a bandaid on the cut and the bloody towel was at his feet.

    “I saved the towel in case we need to get stitches,” he said, gesturing at it.  I got a lump in my throat, realizing that the boys had not only joined together in rendering first aid, but they’d also remembered my rule: take the bloody stuff with you to the ER and you will get your stitches more quickly than the patient who arrives without gory props.

    I examined Porter’s thumb, and decided it would probably heal on its own.

    Here’s what he was making when he cut himself.


    Despite the injury, they’re still thrilled about the possibilities afforded by the bamboo forest.   They’ve made a spear and collected leaves for the roof.  When it gets a bit warmer, we’ll hang out in the hut like monkeys, soaking up the sun.


    Three years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: The Perfect Epithet


    Don’t forget the theme for this week’s Flashback Friday is “Remember It’s Inner Beauty That Counts.”