I found out the hard way.

It started off as a cool, summer morning.  The sun, not quite out from under the clouds, let us savor the mellow air for the early part of the day.

On days like this, we try to get to the park (or anywhere outdoors) as early as I can get the kids dressed and out of the house.  Today, we took a trip to Balboa Park.  We spend a lot of time here, not only because of its close proximity to our home, but for the pretty backdrop when I bring along my camera.

And I used that camera today to capture a moment that I’ll never forget.  (And I’ll make sure Worm never forgets either…)

At Balboa Park, I can loosen the leash on the Worm.  He’s allowed to explore all of the little nooks and crannies of the park, within reason.  And the fine print should have stated that the reasoning should come from my brain, and not his.

Around 10am, I was standing by the stone dragon (locals will know what I mean) trying to get little Smushie to fall asleep.  She struggles to nap when we’re out and about and this time was no different.  (Maybe she doesn’t want to miss a chance sighting of her idol, the Gerber baby?)  I stood over her stroller, bottle in hand (wishing it was a bottle of rum for me), trying to squeeze the last ounce of milk into her plump, kissable belly.  She wasn’t interested and showed her disapproval of my act by spitting up on herself.  Worm, less than 20 feet away, was bouncing up and down on the edge of the curb.  “He looks safe for a few seconds.” I tell myself and then focus on pulling a wet wipe out of the diaper bag to clean Smush off.  One second over a few, I hear Worm screaming for me and not in the sweet “Honeydaddy!” way he normally does.  I look up and he’s got his head stuck in a metal handrail.

Some of you parents know the baby booby trap I speak of…the style of handrails with the vertical bars that beckon for children to stick an arm, a leg, or more enticingly, a head, through.  Today, the handrail captured a Worm head.

Shit.  This sucks.  Sissy won’t stop screaming and now Worm is screaming from being trapped.  I didn’t panic.  There was no need to…yet.  I looked over at him and figured I could squeeze his head out the way it went in.  Easy peasy.  So, I cleaned up Smush and walked her stroller over to get a closer look.

Wow, it’s really stuck in there.  My stress levels hit 2.  (1 = normal levels with kids.  10 = someone shoot me, please!)  How the hell did he manage to squeeze his head between those damn bars?  I blame his mother for his persistence and for causing my poor baby boy to relentlessly ram his head into a fence until it finally stuck.  (Because even though she was at work, it’s indirectly her fault.)

“How the hell could he fit his head in between these rails?  Did his head swell or something?  Shit!  We’re going to be on the 5 o’clock news.”

I gave a good pull and I was only able to mash his ears against the rails.  He screamed, so I stopped pulling.

“I bet his hair acted like lubrication for him to squeeze his head in.  I wish he had hair on his neck to make it easier to pull him back out!  God, why doesn’t he have hair on his neck!  That’s his mother’s fault too!”

Both of my kids are crying and I’m starting to draw a crowd.  Stress levels hit 3.

I had an idea.  I reached into my diaper bag and pulled out some sunscreen.  I rubbed it on Worm’s neck and ears to make sure he wouldn’t get sunburned.  I then pulled out a tip bucket, placed it at his feet and said “Whoso pulleth out this head of this rail and metal is rightwise king, born of England.  One dollar to try!” and I kicked the bucket out towards the people.

Ok, the real idea.  I rubbed some sunscreen on Worm’s neck and ears to see if I could pull his head out gently.  And of course it didn’t work.  His head seemed much too large.  It must have swollen up.  Maybe I should try turning his head around.

“Now if I could remember what he did when he was born, I could probably reenact that maneuver and free him!”

Lucky for me, two women showed up to give me a hand.  The wrong type of hand.  They were waiting to clap for me had I succeeded in my unusual magic trick.  I started to get irritated with them for just staring at us, but I heard them speaking French.  Foreigners.  I kicked myself for not actually putting a tip jar out.  We could have made a lot of money from tourists today, had we come more prepared.

10 minutes in, some girl came up and asked us if we needed her to get some help.  I couldn’t leave either of the kids alone there, so I said yes.  She ran into one of the museums to get someone to come out and assist us.

By this time, a guy came up to see if he could pull the bars apart just far enough to get the Worm’s head through.  I thought it would be a good idea and I grabbed one iron bar and pulled.  “No way in hell that bar is moving.  I think we will have to cut it.” I told him.

The crowd had grown and Worm’s uncontrollable crying was pulling them in.  Before my stress levels hit a 4, I had another idea.

“What about trying to get his body through the bars instead of his head?”

And that’s when I figured out that that was precisely the way Worm got between the bars in the first place.  My stress levels instantly downgraded to a 1.  It just wasn’t obvious to me at first.  Sometimes you have to look at a puzzle from a different angle before the solution becomes clear.

If the woman who ran to get help and the man who actually came up and offered his help can read this:

Worm and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts!  Thank you so much for caring enough to lend a hand!

On the walk back to the car, Worm and I hugged, kissed, and laughed about how it was a good thing that his head so much bigger than his body, and more importantly, that his body was so much smaller than his head!

Worm, I Get the Odd Feeling That About 35 Years ago, I Was in the Same Predicament...

Worm, I Get the Odd Feeling That About 35 Years ago, I Was in the Same Predicament…

Gavin – 26; Honeydaddy – 16 (I’m embarrassed that it took me 10 minutes to solve this riddle!  It was a good test of my mental strength, Wormie…and I failed.  Glad I didn’t resort to cutting off your ears to get your head out!  That would have been hard to explain to mom!)