Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller use this space to offer their views on everyday issues.
The orange glow on the clock reads 6 a.m., the time for me to get out of bed and greet my son Drew. His mother, who works early, drops him off at my house at that time every morning, and he comes through the door and walks straight to his bed, usually without saying hello.
From the crib nearby in our upstairs bedroom/nursery, I hear my youngest son stirring. He starts to whine a little, and Callie and I both know that the volcano is about to erupt.
Question is, who shall have the joy of taming said volcano? Callie claims I should do it because I'm up anyway. That, I suppose, makes sense, though that argument rarely works in reverse. I had been up just three hours earlier to give a bottle to the disgruntled and adorable 8-month-old.
I grudgingly prepare a bottle for the little one as I hear the car door close outside. I gather the little bundle from his bed. I hear the front door open. I take one step at a time down the stairs, thinking that this exercise is a bit pointless. I wonder if Dawson will go to sleep in time for me to get another 30 minutes of shut-eye. I'm at the ninth of 13 steps when it happens. My left foot slips, my right foot jams into the 10th step and down I go.
Crack! Thump, thump, thump. A small flash of false light made possible by my mind and the sensation overload that has just spread through my body like lightning.
Then a baby's wail. Then the pain. Then a moan, my moan.
"Dad, you OK?"
Drew was on his way to his bed.
Another moan comes from my mouth. Wails continue.
"What happened?" It's Callie, who now has enough energy to leap out of bed. "Is Dawson OK?"
Dawson is scared, but not injured. I did not try to catch my fall. The little one was protected by my soft belly and padded backside.
"Do you need an ambulance?"
I'm doing an inventory. Everything hurts.
OK, what hurts worst? Elbow. Can I move it? Yes. Back. Can I move my extremities?
"Do you need an ambulance?"
"Give me a minute!" I softly bark to my cute and talented wife, who, I'm sure, is gawking at me like rubberneckers after a tornado.
Arm scraped. It's OK. Toe, ouch.
"Let me sit on the couch for a minute."
And so I do, and Callie brings me an ice pack, which I place on my elbow. She helps me put bandages on a couple of cuts on my forearm, and I lay there thinking what an idiot I have become. Once athletic, I can't even walk down the frickin' stairs in the morning. I'm thankful that I somehow protected Dawson and that I didn't start my fall at the first stair.
I have become much more respectful of gravity in the last couple of weeks. And I've become more respectful of toes. Of all my injuries, it was the toe that has affected me the most. It turned a deep shade of purple. I think I may have fractured it.
It had to be the worst first 10 minutes of any day in my life.
I couldn't help it. After making sure Bob and Dawson were both relatively OK, I had to say it. I knew you should have installed that handrail on the stairs! Bob insists it wouldn't have helped, but I'm not so sure.
Nearly two weeks later, Bob is still groaning and moaning over his injuries. And we're all careful when it comes to navigating those stairs -- all of us except Dawson, who currently has a fascination with anything and everything he is not supposed to go near.
The little guy has not only perfected the military crawl, he has started pulling himself up using whatever he can get his hands on. More than once, he has tripped over his unsteady legs. Luckily, he inherited his father's ability to bounce.
Callie Clark Miller is the special publications managing editor for the Southeast Missourian. Bob Miller is the Southeast Missourian managing editor who rattles when he walks due to the large bottle of ibuprofen in his pocket. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.