On our last full day in the stunningly beautiful Okanagan Valley, we sat on Boyce-Gyro beach for the afternoon, whiling away the hours at the tail end of the holiday off-season with the place nearly to ourselves.
It was another 30ºC+ day in paradise and yours truly was soaking up the shade while The Girl and Big Fish went paddle boarding and cruising the lake in a giant orange-wheeled floating tricycle. That left Little Fish, Safta, and myselfi at the round brutalist picnic table, eating blueberries, strawberries, goldfish crackers, and tostitos with homemade guacamole, sheltered by the 70-year-old trees splaying out from the gravelly sand.
Just then, with The Girl and Big Fish on the water and Safta and I enjoying the scenery for a few moments,ii Little Fish, who was sitting nicely at the table eating fistfuls of blueberries contentedly, took it upon himself to lose his balance, fall backwards, and smack his head first on the concrete bench and then on the concrete floor underneath. A good and proper wailing naturally ensued, but then something relatively unusual happened: he got dozy.
After a good bit of crying, our angelic, lion-hearted 3-year-old conked out first his mother’s chest for a few minutes and then, after transferring him to me so she could go back out on the water, back on my chest for another 10 minutes. Being the forward-thinking father that I am, I proudly, like a smug idiot, took in the moment, during which this picture was taken, thinking only that there wouldn’t be so many more such happenstances of tenderness to enjoy before he was older and I became uncool and undesirable.iii But then one of the neighbouring beach-goers who actually saw the fall (we did not), and apparently had more experience with head trauma than your run-of-the-mill golfer/badminton player, mentioned that “powering down” was a telltale sign of a concussion, or as it’s more accurately known in the post-Dr. Omalu-era, “head trauma.” Not quite sure what to make of this unsolicited advice, we called our resident family physician (aka mother-in-law), but she didn’t pick up. Not entirely trusting Dr. Google either, out of an abundance of caution, we decided to wake up the little man and take him to the Kelowna General Hospital Emergency Room.iv
Upon waking, still sore and shook up, and now annoyed at the ungracious alarm clock, Little Fish continued to wail. At this point, it wasn’t at all clear if he was showing any other signs of a concussion, such as confusion, blurry vision, loss of appetite, nausea, etc., so we played it safe, seeing no particular reason to play dice with fully 50% of our
stack stack. Packing up and loading into our rented Chevy Suburban, the little man devoured a chocolate chip cookie (a great sign), calmed down, and started being his usual delightful self, including pointing out the time on the dashboard clock (3:19pm), noticing the route numbers of buses going by (#1), and correctly identifying all the machines in the roadworks construction crew (excavator, etc…. also great signs!).
Three hours later, after several dramatically more unfortunate souls were seen before our now-happy and usually-patient little tyke, Little Fish was given the all clear by the attending physician with instructions to keep the roughhousing to a minimum and keep an eye on other concussion symptoms for the following week. In all likelihood, the “powering down” was indeed indicative of a very minor concussion, but he didn’t have his “bell rung” nor was he “seeing stars” in the way that so many athletes in contact sports do. Being a robust kid has its advantages!
That night, The Girl and I celebrated with Dom Rosé at Quails’ Gate Winery.v Not only were we celebrating my birthday, but also health, life, and family.
Bonne fête, santé, l’chaim!
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- Gido was absent. He took his 88-year-old great aunt Cathy to Mission Hill for a 3-hour lunch at the most beautiful restaurant in the Valley, one that emerged from the fruitful mind of a good Jewish boy from Toronto who made a mint in the early 2000’s selling brilliantly branded alcoholic lemonade. It’s actually hard to imagine the alcoholic beverage landscape before Mike’s Hard Lemonade, just as it’s hard to imagine the pre-White Claw world. ↩
- How long is “a moment” you ask? If scripture is anything to go by:
וְכַמָּה זַעְמוֹ — רֶגַע. וְכַמָּה רֶגַע — אֶחָד מֵחֲמֵשֶׁת רִבּוֹא וּשְׁמוֹנַת אֲלָפִים וּשְׁמֹנֶה מֵאוֹת וּשְׁמֹנִים וּשְׁמֹנָה בְּשָׁעָה, וְזוֹ הִיא רֶגַע. וְאֵין כָּל בְּרִיָּה יְכוֹלָה לְכַוֵּין אוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה, חוּץ מִבִּלְעָם הָרָשָׁע, דִּכְתִיב בֵּיהּ: ״וְיוֹדֵעַ דַּעַת עֶלְיוֹן״.
How much time does His anger last? God’s anger lasts a moment. And how long is a moment? One fifty-eight thousand, eight hundred and eighty-eighth of an hour, that is a moment. The Gemara adds: And no creature can precisely determine that moment when God becomes angry, except for Balaam the wicked, about whom it is written: “He who knows the knowledge of the Most High” (Numbers 24:16).
That’s about 0.06 seconds for us decimally-oriented types. ↩
- I’m counting down the days until I become the inevitable ATM/chauffeur combo that all parents of tweens and teenagers are seemingly doomed to. ↩
- Unfortunately, this is also when my trusty non-linear extrapolator started to kick in, and I started to envision a brain-dead or at least brain-damaged son for the next 50 years. Having childhood friends who’d experienced severe head trauma while snowboarding who are now essentially walking vegetables, and having parents of friends who’d experienced head trauma only for their personalities to completely change and for them to have to relearn everything, including who their own children were, I wasn’t exactly keen to experience that kind of sudden and traumatic life change first-hand. As a result, I suddenly got quite nauseous and lost all my colour to the point that I had to lie down, not wanting there to be two casualties at once. A few minutes later, I was okay enough to stand up and function well enough to drive us all to the hospital, but for the next three hours, my head would be a bit dizzy and my stomach in knots. Good thing I didn’t have the grades to get into medical school eh! Fuck I would’ve been a terrible surgeon. ↩
- The wines from Quails’ Gate are readily available in Alberta so we weren’t there for a tasting menu, and we’re also acculturating ourselves in champagnes this year, so why not pull from the top shelf? ↩