Lynnette and I were in the car and reminisced about much younger versions of Madison. We reminded each other of the things Mad would say back then like “I do not like it,” and “Me happening?” The round of nostalgia reminded me of something I had never told Lynnette about my first summer alone with Madison. I debated for about a quarter-mile before I opened my mouth. “I want to come clean about something,” I said.”
“What do you mean?” Lynnette asked. Her on-fleek brow was furrowed. “I want to confess to you something that happened during that first summer when it was just me and Mad,” I said. “Okay…” Lynnette said. “Do you remember when Madison got a black eye and I told you that it was from the plastic giraffe? That she had been shaking it in front of her face and accidentally hit herself? Well, that’s not what happened.” Lynnette appeared slightly amused, but also not-so-slightly unamused. She’s an enigma, that wife of mine. Anyway, I told her what really happened:
Since Madison was only few months old, she wasn’t very mobile. In fact, she couldn’t flip onto her tummy yet. The only way she could move from wherever she was positioned on the floor was by using her feet to push her upward, in the direction of her head. I had the Mets game going on in the computer room with the volume turned up as high as possible. Since I couldn’t see the game, I just let it play in the background while the Goob and I cruised in the living room. Madison was set up in the middle of the living room, right in front of the TV. Well, at some point a big play happened and I heard the play-by-play man shout things excitedly. I rushed into the room to see what had happened, but when I entered the scene, the ball was already on its way back to the infield. I stuck around to watch the Mets RBI hit on the replay. Somehow, in that time Madison managed to migrate to the front of the entertainment unit in the living room. I was still watching the Mets game when I heard the sound of impact followed by my daughter’s cries of pain. I rushed into the living room (even faster than I had rushed into the computer room) to find my daughter pressed up against the entertainment unit, PS3 controller laying next to her head. She had pulled on the wire and the controller came crashing down on her. The controller traveled maybe a foot before smacking Mad in the face. I picked up her, rocked her, apologized, took her to the room to watch the Mets, and everything seemed alright. A few minutes later, a bruise started to show through the skin of her face. I engineered a cover-up.
“Philip!” Lynnette said. This is a variation of Madison’s “Dad!” cry. “Look,” I said. Lynnette sat in the passenger seat shaking her head. “The funny thing is, I’ve been telling people the full story for years now,” I said. “What do you mean?” Lynnette asked. “When I cover Heart of Darkness in class, I use this story and my lie to illustrate Marlow’s assertion that we can’t know anything outside of our personal experience,” I said. The head shaking continued. “My students say, ‘That’s horrible, Mister,’ and eventually one will ask the most relevant question: Are you ever going to tell your wife? That’s when I say ‘Well, I don’t see how the truth could do any good now…'” I said. Lynnette was laughing by this time. “AND THIS IS WHY…” she repeated over and over. I was laughing too. “This is why I couldn’t tell you!” I said. “What?” Lynnette said. “I knew if I told you the truth, you would have been upset. I could have handled that. But I couldn’t handle the “I told you so’ or you thinking I wasn’t a good parent. I just panicked,” I said. “Is there anything else?” Lynnette asked. “From that first summer?” I replied. “From any summer!” Lynnette said. “Oh, no, obviously Madison is alive and well. That’s all, as far as you know,” I said jokingly. “As far as I know?” Lynnette repeated. She followed that will a Pffft! There was a beat of silence. “This summer you’re going to have two of them!” Lynnette said. “I know and I’m terrified!” I said. We both laughed. “I hope this somehow, maybe ironically made your day,” I said. Lynnette’s lips grew into a small smile. “It kind of did,” she said.