(This is a backlog post. It should have gone up June 3.)
There comes a time in every child’s life when they experience something that can make a mother’s heart stop.
With Logan, it was his premature birth and 10 day hospitalization. With Lila it was the time she drank turpentine at 2 years, 1 month old. Scarlett had yet to do something to freak me out severely (other than running off in a bookstore and hiding when she was 18 months old), but that changed last week.
I will have to begin with some background.
It was Monday, a rather stressful day for me because it is grocery shopping day. I used to shop alone with Scarlett while the other two were at school, but now with the arrival of summer holidays, I have no choice but to shop with all three kids.
Logan was already fussing when we got to the mall because we were only doing grocery shopping, and he wanted to go to the arcade and toy shop. He has no patience for shopping so he was running around, touching everything – every display, every shelf, every food item. He broke candy bars, crushed bags of chips and grabbed everything he could. Normally he is fairly obedient and can manage a trip to the store without too much wildness, but this day his hyperactive nature had taken over and it was all I could do to not yell at him right there. (He has ADHD.)
He continued to be wild during lunch and rest time, and on into the afternoon. He was mean to the girls and kept making them cry. Any sort of punishment didn’t faze him at all.
I finally decided to take the kids to the playground near our house, hoping that some outdoor play could burn some of his energy and tire him out. Yet he continued to be wild. Several times I had to pull him aside from his play as he was biting and pinching the other children. He even bit his own lip when he fell as he was racing up the slide.
The whole time I was keeping half an eye on the girls as they climbed the jungle gym. They are both quite good at it, so, while I stay near them, I don’t have to be right there. At one point I had to go to Logan again, and I didn’t see Scarlett follow me, nor did I see her climb the straight metal slide (not the ladder but the slide) until she was at the top.
She learned to climb the slide some time ago (barefoot), but I’m always next to her as there are no safety rails and she hasn’t yet figured out how to turn from her climb to sitting without putting her butt over the side. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.
It was almost like seeing something in slow motion. I saw her at the top of the slide. I saw her begin to turn, and then I knew she was going to fall. I was too far away to get there in time to catch her. I left Logan and forgot his naughtiness as I ran to my baby.
The slide was about 6 feet at the highest point and she fell from the top, landing in the sand flat on her chest and tummy, hitting her lips hard on one side. Horror stories that I had heard of kids dying from falling off a slide filled my mind, and I struggled to push them away so I could focus on Scarlett. At first she cried while I carried her to a bench and tried to clean the sand off her face, but then she was quiet, scarily quiet. She just sat on my lap and looked at everything. I kept asking her questions but she wouldn’t answer. I managed to round up Logan and Lila, and we rushed home. All I could think of was getting her home, putting ice on her ever-swelling lips, and helping her recover from the shock she was in.
She wouldn’t let me put ice on her lip, nor did she want me to get the sand out of her mouth, both of which made her cry. I was afraid she had some internal injury since she was so quiet. I called Glad, who was working on the other side of town, and told him what had happened.
He asked some questions and then reassured me that she was probably fine but to keep an eye on her. I held her close and told her how sorry I was that I hadn’t been close enough to catch her. I couldn’t do anything but rock her. After about 30 minutes (from the time she fell) she began to move around. I put a video on for her and then went to my room to cry. The guilt I felt was massive. How had I not noticed her following me? Why wasn’t I paying more attention? Why hadn’t I been right there to catch her? It was awful.
Finally I realized I had some hungry kids on my hands so I forced myself to get up and cook dinner, even though I wasn’t very hungry and could hardly stand to look at food. Surprisingly, Scarlett ate a good dinner! I thought she might just have some yogurt because she could hardly open her mouth, but she figured a way to slip the food in on the side that wasn’t sore. (Fried chicken liver, French fries, and cucumber slices.)
Afterwards she was perky and climbing around, even jumping! She was fine as I showered everyone and got them ready for bed. I let her lie in my bed and she went to sleep quickly.
Glad kept checking in every hour, and he was sure she didn’t have any internal injury, since she was breathing well, had eaten and didn’t throw up, nor was she complaining of any pains other than her massively swollen lip and a sore chest. I, however, was still freaking out inside.
I kept her in bed with me all night. At one point she scared me by waking up and just sitting there and staring straight ahead. After what seemed like forever, she told me she wanted water and to get up, but it was only about 4 in the morning so I convinced her to go back to sleep.
In the morning her lip looked scary. The top one on the right side was big and puffy, the bottom about half the size. Above, below, and on her lips were all the tiny scratches that had scabbed overnight. Scarlett herself was perky as ever, ate a good breakfast, had a normal bowel movement, and showed every sign of being ok internally. But just to be safe, Glad took her to the hospital for a checkup.
I didn’t feel relief until they got home. The doctor had confirmed that she had no internal injury, and her lip was going to be just fine. The swelling went down rapidly over the next two days, so fast, in fact, that we could see a difference from one hour to the next. Now, exactly one week later, all the scabs are gone and there is no evidence that she had such a bad fall.
Since that day I’ve made sure to stay right next to her at the park whenever she is climbing. She is daring, like Lila, and will climb on most anything, so I can’t let her out of my sight. She may be a good climber, but she is still a toddler and doesn’t have as good balance as Lila does.
I shudder every time I think back on that moment when she fell. I’m thankful she fell from the 6’ slide and not the higher spiral one that she so loves. I’m thankful I wasn’t far when she fell, so I could pick her up right away. I’m thankful she wasn’t seriously injured. And I’m most thankful she is still here.
What has your child done to freak you out?