On our way home, my daughter, Katherine, rode ahead of me on her two-wheeler, while I trailed just behind her. Our friends, who were visiting for the weekend, were behind me. And, behind them, was my husband with our son, Jack.
As any other nosy neighbour would do, I was checking out the homes in my neighbourhood, eyeing up landscaping jobs, getting ideas for my own garden. My eyes weren't on my daughter.
When I briefly looked ahead of me, I noticed Katherine had fallen off her bike. She was just getting up at that moment.
You know when kids cry so hard that they actually stop breathing? Yeah, she was doing that. She stood up, and as she was running to me, I could see blood dripping from her hands.
I quickened my pace to get to her, as she continued to cry. I knelt down and grabbed her hands, thinking I would see skinned fingers or palms.
Splat! Splat! Splat!
There was blood dripping from somewhere else. My heart rate quickened.
"I can't tell where she's bleeding from!!!" I yelled out in panic.
At that point, our friends had run over.
"She's bleeding from her chin!" my friend told me.
I immediately grabbed my son's wet t-shirt (he had played in the splash pad while wearing it), and firmly placed it on her chin. Her lips had gone completely pale, as she continued to cry.
Now, she's the type of kid who will only cry if something is seriously wrong. From what I could tell, up until that point, she had cut her chin. No biggie.
My husband had reached us at this point, and I told him that her chin was bleeding.
"Let's see," he said.
I slowly pulled the towel away from her chin.
If any of you have ever taken a First Aid course, the #1 rule they share with you is to always remain calm.
My husband and I? The complete OPPOSITE of that.
"OH MY GOD!"
Yeah, we actually screamed it out. Imagine our horror when we saw this:
Go ahead and zoom in if you have the ability to do so. It's fascinating up close.
Except all meaty and bloody (this is the cleaned-up version at the hospital). It was as if there was a hole in her chin where you could store away items if you wanted to. What was that?!
I looked at my husband and we instantly knew she needed stitches. He scooped her up and we ran the rest of the way home.
We put her in the car (where I noticed that she had lost her flip-flops at some point and was now barefoot) and went straight to the hospital.
Two hours and four stitches later, we were back home.
My husband and I found that we were both rattled from this incident. It took us a couple days to shake that feeling. I don't know if I felt guilty for it happening - although there was nothing I could have done to avoid it. It was an accident.
I guess the root of this feeling came from Katherine's fear and pain - the pain she felt when she hit the pavement, the fear in seeing so much blood, the confusion she may have felt from seeing us so worried and concerned, and certainly the discomfort and fear she experienced when getting the stitches. As much as I tried to soothe and calm her, seeing her so vulnerable made me sick to my stomach.
As we were driving home from the hospital, my husband and I were talking about how lucky we are that nothing like this has happened earlier. Katherine has always been a bit of a klutz, and Jack is fearless - how have we never spent more time in the Emergency Room? I guess it's a rite of passage of sorts. We all have stories of stitches or broken bones from childhood.
It also made me think about parents who go through much worse with their children. One of my closest friends spent two weeks in the hospital with her very sick son. He had horrible pneumonia which resulted in surgery and tubes draining his lungs and IVs and medicine. If this is how I felt with my precious child receiving four measly stitches, how did my girlfriend watch her helpless son go through that awful bout of pneumonia? How do parents watch their children suffer with leukemia? How do parents cope when their children have had serious accidents?
This was just a taste of the fragility of childhood. Ugh, I don't know if I can handle more than a few stitches. I guess I need to brace myself for the next 15 years (with a constant glass of wine).
How do you react to your child getting seriously hurt?