by Charlotte Johnson
“Houston, so full of commotion,” I think aloud a lot.
Staring out the window, half-dressed I take my sweet time getting ready. Work isn’t on my mind. Of course my son pepper spraying himself isn’t on my list of things to deal with either, but we’ll get back to that in a second. I stay a measly four minutes away from the job. In fact I could look over the balcony of our high rise apartment and view the work place from the comfort of my home which is what I am doing when I notice that the time is nearing for me to depart. Drudgingly I drag my feet into the bedroom. The bathroom and vanity both sit inside the bedroom. In the room I walk over to the vanity and begin my ritual of getting ready for my shift.
Jermaine, my son, 6 at the time, plays loudly with his hot wheels cars. He has the track put together taking over the majority of the bedroom.
“Mama” he calls out to me.
“Yes, baby” if I don’t answer him he will surely go through all the ways of calling me ‘Mom’, until I finally annoyed, answer him.
“Can you bring me some of that cold oatmeal when you come home tonight? I really like that. PPPLLLLEEEAAASSSSEEE mom.” He begs hands clasped in front of him prayer style.
He loves anything in the edible department. He is big for his age not to chubby but the weight on his body gave him the physique of a 12 year old boy. And standing at least a centimeter away from my bosom he is believed to be very tall for his age. Well, compared to my five foot six inch frame I agree. Hell, looking over his 1st grade class room it’s confirmed.
Jermaine, my sunshine.
RING, RING, RING, my cellular phone breaks me out of my trance. Breon my son’s babysitter confirms he is headed our way to take over so I can go to work. I comb my hair, brush my teeth and then wash my face. Putting on my work pants I marvel at how firm my backside appears.
“AACHOO” Jermaine sneezes.
“Bless you babe” I yell out to him. He doesn’t respond. Maybe he didn’t hear me, I think. I continue dressing. All of a sudden Jermaine runs past me to the restroom. He emerges tissue in hand trying to wipe something around or maybe off of his tongue.
Panic sets in his face quickly. And then he makes what is the biggest mistake of all by wiping his hand across the length of his entire face.
“Mama!!!!” he finally is able to choke out.
Unsure of what exactly he is trying to do or better yet what is going on, I just stand kind of frozen a bit dumb founded.
Finally, I manage to find my thoughts, next my voice.
“What is wrong with you child” I ask in a ‘I mean business’ tone.
“It burns, it burns.” He finally says in a hurried tone. He hasn’t stopped wiping down his face.
“What in the heavens did you get into Maine? What did you touch?” I asked this time more loudly and a little too aggressively.
“I’m so sorry, Mama. I only sprayed in the air. It’s in my eeeeeyyyyyyeeeee,” he cries.
Alarm sets in as I had a flash back. When I first started working night shift, Patrick (a muse of mine) had given me a canister of authentic k-9 unit police pepper spray. Once it had rolled of my purse right in front of Jermaine. He had reached for it. Before he could drop down to his knees to exam the content, I had grabbed it .
“Maine, this isn’t air freshener or Axe body spray. So don’t ever, ever, ever spray this ever. Remember when we were watching cops? I asked.
He shook his head as if to say yes.
“And the cop shot the guy with a bean bag. It was full of pepper pellets. When they hit the skin they send a burning sensation all over the body. That’s exactly what this spray does. Don’t ever spray it.” I had warned.
I never planned on leaving it laying around I had to keep it in my purse as a means of protection. It must have rolled out of my purse again and this time he sprayed it.
Back to the present. The gears in my head begin to grind faster. I have to take action and quickly. I grab him up, snatch off his shirt and then throw him in the shower with running cold water. I have him sit down in the tub while I run to raise the bedroom window and turned on the ceiling fan to increase ventilation.
When I return he is even more distressed than before. He begins to beg me to help him. I can’t and when I tell him that he cries harder.
“Mama please make it stop” he looks at me with those big doe eyes. The look sends a piercing sear through my heart because I know there is nothing to do but wait it out.
Feeling powerless I pick up my cellular and dial 9-1-1. I prompt the operator on my dilemma and they instruct me to prop my front door open. In my room I sit on my bed. From my position I can view the bathroom and the front door. I light a cigarette and for some reason I light another. When the EMT’s arrive I am literally chain smoking two Kool’s back to back. They laugh at me and assure me that I did the right thing and he will be just fine. By the time Jermaine gets his vital signs checked he is calm and breathing ok.
I bid the nice paramedics a good day and thank them for their services. I get on the phone immediately with my mom and explain to her the chain of events. After telling her my story she gives me her opinion, “Why would you ever call the ambulance. You did everything right. He just had to wait it out, serves him right shouldn’t have touched it to begin with.”
“But I panicked mom. I felt so bad because I couldn’t help him.”
I can look back on this and have a chuckle or two. Both of us actually always recant the story just to hear each others’ point of view. We both learned valuable lessons that day. His: Always listen to your mom. Mine: Children hardly listen to their parents.