The longer you're a parent, the more you realize you can't protect your children from everything. Sure, you could go the old "Bubble Boy" route (the Jake Gyllenhaal and John Travolta versions), but that's not really protecting your kids (unless they actually have a rare auto-immune disorder that makes even the air around them a potential killer). No, most of us just have to let our kids be kids and cross our fingers that our trips to the emergency room will be few and far between. As, let's face it, control is an illusion and although there are many things you can (and should) do to protect your kids, there are also many things you need to allow them to learn and experience on their own (i.e. “no pain, no gain”).
I’d say two years, three weeks and roughly twelve hours (my daughter’s age) is a pretty good run for never having to take your daughter to “emergency?” At least that’s what I was telling myself when I heard the very large bang, followed by the blood-curdling cries my daughter let out after she had her first major fall. It was quite innocent really. My daughter, the independent little girl that she is, wanted a marker from the living room, and didn’t want to ask Daddy for help to get it while he was stirring dinner.
And BANG… the kitchen wall shakes like there’s an earthquake, and the wailing begins.
In a succession of quick moves I took the pot off the burner, turned off the stove and rushed in to the other room to find my daughter in between the wall and her Fisher Price Easel, holding a red marker (the thing she wanted) in one hand and her entire face in the other. The tears were streaming, she was screaming and I held my breath as I peeled her hand away from her face.
For a moment I was wishing that she had time to color all her teeth in with that red marker, as that would mean they weren’t all covered in her blood, but I wasn’t so lucky. Apparently, when my daughter fell she cut the inside of her mouth, and it was my job to find out just how bad that cut was.
So there I was dabbing my daughter’s mouth with one hand and all the blood she dripped on the floor with the other, as I waited to see just how much blood we were dealing with. Thirty seconds later, I had my answer: not all that much. The bleeding stopped almost as quickly as it began, and aside from the rather large cut to that little flap that holds my daughter’s top lip to her gum line, there wasn’t too much damage to speak of.
The crying stopped. The bleeding stopped. The racing heartbeat (mine) slowed to its regular rhythm. All was okay in the world again. There would be no need to go to the emergency room. Not for my daughter, and not for me. I took care of the injury, on my own, long before my wife got home and she was both in agreement with what I did and with what I did not do--- waste a trip to the emergency room.
As the old saying goes, “no harm, no foul.” Or as the other saying goes, “shit happens,” and you just deal with it as it comes your way. There is nothing that can prepare you for these moments (expect for first aid classes). All you can do is stay calm, keep your kid laughing (which is hard when she has a cut in her mouth), and know that you’re just as capable as anybody else when it comes to applying first aid to your child.
Could this incident have been prevented: maybe? Am I sorry it happened? No. It’s just one of those things that makes both father (or mother) and child stronger. Sure, my daughter now has a scar on the inside of her mouth, but she also knows that her daddy can take care of her if it happens again. And, if that doesn’t help her confidence to test out her world, what else will? A bubble?