Yesterday I dropped Jackson off at a birthday party. I had two solid hours until pickup so I spent my time off the leash ogling teenage boys at Nordstrom. No, actually I had to return something to the men's department for Jack, ogling today's youth was bonus.

Do you ever have the feeling about an hour after you've left your child somewhere that you should have pinned your cell phone number to his chest?

Before I'd even made it back into the party a parent on the sidewalk told me that Jackson was okay, though he might have a black eye later. They found some ice for him and five minutes later he was running around again.

Jackson: "Why did you leave me? Where did you go? I needed you!"

Me: "Sorry, kid. Here's five bucks."

I took him over to Chaucer's and let him choose five little $1.00 Dover books. Then we picked up some take-out food and went home.

Me, pointing to Jackson's slightly swollen cheekbone: "Tell Daddy what happened!"

Jackson: "I was bouncing in the bounce house and then my eye bonked into Kyle's head."

Jack: "Girls love black eyes."

Jackson: "Really?"

Me: "It makes no sense, but it's true."

Jack: "It makes you look like a tough guy."

Jackson: "Man, I hope I get a black eye."

It was only a greenish lump this morning, which was fortunate for me. Last week Jackson's kindergarten teacher took me aside and told me that at lunch the kids had been talking about how their parents spank them when they're bad. One kid said his dad whipped him with a belt; Jackson stepped up and declared that his dad beat the crap out of him every day.

"Uh, he doesn't do that," I said, trying not to look nervous.

"I know," she laughed, "if he came to school with bruises on his face it would be a different story."