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"Falling" for Him

by Melissa Atkinson 7 months ago in Dating

Meet his kids they said. It'll be fun they said.

Meet his kids they said. It’ll be fun they said.

One drunken night, my sister and my best friend stole my phone and restarted the dating app I’d been on. I’d met some creeps, and gave up on the whole “online dating thing,” but they thought I should give it another try. Of course, later that night when my phone blew up with notifications from guys on Plenty of Fish, I was irritated until this guy named Jeff messaged me.

His message was different from the rest. He didn’t say: “Hi, sexy,” or “Hey, beautiful.” He stood out because he asked me if I played softball. He was in a co-ed league and needed players for his team. He was cute, but I’m the most non-athletic person on the face of the Earth. I responded with “sorry, I am not athletic at all.” I thought he’d move on, but he persisted with: “well do you like music?” We hit it off from there. I gave him my number and he called me 30 seconds later.

I knew he was the one, even before we met in person. We spent hours on the phone before our first date, a week later. When Jeff told me he had 4 kids, ages 8-19, I admit, I was a bit overwhelmed at the thought, but there was something about him that made me throw caution to the wind. I decided it was fine, we were just dating, plus I had two kids of my own who were the same or close in age to his youngest two.

We fell in love fast, but tried to take things slow, especially with the kids. We’d never dated anyone with kids before, so both of us were new to this and nervous. It worked out that both of our exes had the kids on the same weekends, so we scheduled our dates then.

After a couple months of dating, it was finally time to officially meet the kids. Jeff had already briefly met my daughter McKenna, because she’d ran out of the house one time when he was picking me up for a date to check him out, before leaving for her dad’s house. It was brief, and she thought he was “dorky but cute.” I’d accidently met Jeff’s middle daughter, Kaytlen, who had just turned 18, when I ran into them at Target.

Today, I was meeting his younger kids, Jacob and Kristin. I was terrified. Jeff had told me so much about his kids, I felt like I knew them already, but at the same time wanted to get to know them on my own. When you are “Dad’s new girlfriend” or “Mom’s new boyfriend” you’ve got a lot to prove. You have to be cool, but you can’t let them know that you’re trying to be cool. You have to make sure you don’t monopolize your boyfriend/girlfriend’s time so nobody gets jealous. You really have to learn as you go, each kid is different.

Jeff told me Kristin was outgoing and sweet and fine in any situation. She was a take charge kind of girl (which was evident when I saw her and Cole playing catch and he was more non-athletic than me) but she always made everyone around her feel at ease. When she bounced out of Jeff’s car, she ran right up to me and said “Hi, I’m Kristin, you’re pretty!” I liked her right away.

My daughter, McKenna had come outside to meet everyone before leaving to hang out with her friends. Kristin stared at McKenna and they both smiled at each other in that tween girl way. We introduced Kristin and Cole, and they took off to play right away. That was a good sign.

Jeff said Jacob was on the shy side, and boy could I relate to that, being shy myself. He got out of the car, after a minute and stood awkwardly in my driveway. McKenna said a quiet “hey” to him, and left, leaving Jeff, Jacob, and myself standing there looking at each other.

I opened my mouth to say something when suddenly Mr. Shy kid, puts his hand out and says “Hi, I’m Jacob, my dad is horrible at introductions.” He shook my hand! We both started laughing and teasing Jeff, which was the perfect icebreaker.

It was a rare sunny day for April in Oregon, so we took advantage of the nice weather and decided to play football on our street. Our street never saw much traffic, and the game was basically Jeff throwing the football straight up into the air, the kids running and screaming wondering where it would land, with Jeff always catching the ball, much to everyone’s amazement. I was standing on the sidewalk playing cheerleader, casually chatting with Jacob.

Then it happened.

It was time to start dinner, so I made my way up the driveway toward the house. When I was next to my car, I heard Jeff call out “heads up,” but paid no attention. He was in the street after all, nowhere near where the ball would land close to the driveway. I kept walking.

Then I heard “Melissa, Watch out!” It was Jacob.

From there, everything happened in slow motion, but I couldn’t react fast enough. I turned just in time to see the football hurling down from the sky, straight toward me. My instincts kicked in. I knew I didn’t have time to outrun it. I did the only thing I could, ducked down, throwing my hands over my head and screamed two words I’d never uttered in my life.

“Oh Dee-e-er!”

I knew I’d been hit, everything went black. The ball nailed me right between my shoulder blades, knocking me into my car. I bounced off it, and landed on my back. I was only out for a second before I heard the commotion. Everyone came running toward me as I laid there, still at first, completely mortified. I’d just been knocked over, ass over teakettle. Was I hurt? I didn’t know. I was probably in a slight state of shock as well. I laid there, contemplating my next move.

Then I heard something I never expected. Jacob. He was running to get to me, but was laughing so hard, he tripped, fell, and cut his knee open. From my prone position on the ground, I saw Jacob limping toward me, still laughing.

“Oh my God, are you okay?” he said, between giggles.

“I’m sorry, I can’t help it, oh da da da deeer!” he said, mimicking me, but in good nature.

I laid there for a second wondering if I was hurt, or if I was truly injured, I slowly sat up, assessing the damage. I would live. In that moment, I knew what I had to do. I burst into hysterical laughter, I’m talking the kind of hilarity that has you snorting, and roll around on the ground. Yes, I was in pain, but just picturing what I must've looked like, I started snorting again. More importantly, my brief embarrassment was gone just like that.

Jeff was concerned, but once he saw me laughing, and wasn’t dead, he too, started cracking up as he helped me up, and checked me for lumps and bumps. He started apologizing as much as he could between giggles.

I admit, that stupid football knocked the wind out of me, but I was with it enough to realize Jacob’s knee was bleeding. He was still laughing hysterically, but bleeding all the same. Jeff led both of us in the house, getting me an ice pack, and Jacob’s knee cleaned up. All I could think of at the time was “Oh great, I’m sending him back to his mother broken.”

Dinner ended up being pizza delivery, because after everything calmed down, my upper back was throbbing, and I could barely move. Even though I tried to act like it didn’t bother me, Jeff knew I was hurting. It wasn’t until later that Jeff saw a perfect triangle, a football shaped bruise between my shoulder blades that we knew how bad my injury was. He kept apologizing , and when it was time for him to take the kids home, they both hugged me and told me they’d never forget my “oh da da da deer” moment, and they were glad I was okay.

In the end, it was a great day, and boy, did those kids think I was some kind of superwoman for enduring that injury and carrying on. Looking back, the kids and I will never forget the first time we met. They thought I was so tough, and such a trooper because I never once got mad about it.

I nursed that bruise for about a week, and I definitely milked it for another few days after that around Jeff. He made up for it by taking care of me the whole time. He brought flowers, my favorite coffee drink, and cooked dinner for me and my kids for over a week. Actually, after that, he kind of stayed, and it’s been almost 10 years.

More importantly, I learned something that day that has stayed with me. Embarrassing moments happen to everyone. You can either let it bring you down, or you can laugh because you know it’s funny.


Melissa Atkinson

I started writing short stories at a young age, and published Ghost from Nowhere. I'm still working on the sequel slowly, very slowly. I love writing short stories, so i'll stick to that for now.

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Melissa Atkinson
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