Those of you who know me well know that I can be wound a little tight. I sweat the small stuff. I worry, I fear the things I cannot change. I knew that parenting would only make matters worse. Parents have an entire little person to care for, make sure they are fed, clothed, roll over on time, grow at the right rate, don't hit, don't swear and brush their teeth.
When Bennett was born, I vowed to focus on the big things and not worry if my little boy tripped and scuffed his knee or bumped his head a time or two. I didn't want to be the mom who walked four inches behind, ready to scoop him up at every stumble and fall. Bumps and scratches are inevitable and every little boy (and little girl) needs to learn to pick their foot up over a crack in the sidewalk and dodge that wall that came out of nowhere. It's a method that has worked well for most of us. His dad might catch his breath a little more often than I do, and he may have a few boo boos on his knee or an egg on his forehead at any given time, but Bennett and I are both stronger because of it.
Our track record took a hit on Saturday afternoon. So did Bennett's head. We were playing in the kitchen with mom and dad's pots and pans. Bennett was very busy cooking, stirring, shifting the pans around, covering and uncovering. He stopped to take a drink of water and spilled some on the floor. He took a step and whoosh, down he fell, straight onto the edge of a frying pan. I was right there, not hovering, playing sous chef.
I scooped him up and there was blood everywhere. We ran upstairs to the bathroom and by the time I set him on the sink he was already done crying. I called Rocky to come home because I wasn't sure if this was an ER situation. It was 5:01, sixty seconds after the dr's office closed on Saturdays. While I was explaining to Rocky what happened, my parents walked in the door, just dropping by on their way home from church. Thank God I had more capable back-up, capable grandparents who know how to hover. Rocky got home just in time for the nurse's line to tell me to head straight to the emergency room.
We raced to the car and were sitting in the waiting room not 30 minutes after it happened. The bleeding had stopped. Bennett was smiling at the big kids, asking to look at the train in the lobby. Asking for snacks, his water, the phone. If it wasn't for the drops of blood on his shirt, no one could have imagined anything was wrong, his hair hiding the wound.
We talked to nurses and EMT's, consulted with family and friends who all work at the children's hospital. Each one had to hear me make excuses for my failed parenting, secretly hoping they would all agree that every kid plays with commercial-grade stainless-steel skillets. "And I was right there, supervising, I swear." I couldn't believe I let this happen right before my eyes.
My penance was to rub my little baby's sholders as the nurse's aid kept him pinned to the table as they sewed four stitches in the first cut and three in the other. He wailed as he was obviously very frightened that he couldn't see beneath the surgical paper. But when they were finished, he sat on my lap and I rubbed his back. He sniffled a few more times and then waved good bye to the nurses on our way out the door.
After a milkshake supper and a good night's sleep, he was up and at 'em and bumping his head again on Sunday. This time, we're never more than a foot behind him. What is hard is knowing that wouldn't have changed the outcome the last time. We have to navigate new boundaries, new safety measures and perhaps buy a helmet.