Parenting can be very scary, so much so that every once in a while something happens that knocks the wind out of you.
Yesterday Annie and I were in the backyard playing with her bubble gun when I remembered that Heather had asked me to use the hose to knock out some spider webs on the side of the house. I put down the bubble gun and told Annie it was time to switch gears.
“Can I help, Daddy?”
“Sure,” I said, then turned on the faucet and pulled out the hose. I started blasting away at the spider webs when Annie suddenly ran toward where we’d left the bubble gun. The next thing I knew I heard a very loud crack followed by Annie’s shrieking. I dropped the hose and charged over to find Annie flat on her back in a puddle of water that had trickled out of the faucet. I quickly realized what had happened. The water had mixed with the bubbles from Annie’s bubble gun to make the ground super slippery, and Annie had slipped and smacked the back of her head against the ground.
I raced Annie inside, trying to console her as she continued to wail at the top of her lungs. I could have used someone to console me, though, as all I could think about was the thud her head made against the ground.
Once inside I told Heather what happened and she grabbed her phone to call her mom. In hindsight it’s kind of funny because within seconds we had probably a dozen people – Heather, her parents, her cousin, friends near and far – Googling about head injuries to children.
As this was happening Annie started to say that she was tired and wanted to sleep. This scared us to death because we’d always heard that you should never let anyone sleep after a head injury. I did my best to keep her awake until Dr. Google made it clear that the “no going to sleep” rule was not true, and that kids, in fact, often want to sleep after a head injury to help them recover. There were warning signs, however, that everyone’s research said to watch out for including:
Thankfully, Annie didn’t pass out, throw up, or have slurred speech, and as much as I annoyed her by making her walk across the room, she was walking normally, too. The only warning sign that fit Annie was that she was inconsolable for a long time. Eventually, though, she fell asleep, and we obsessively watched her doze (even nudging her awake every ten minutes to make sure she was okay).
After about an hour she sat up and started to cry again until Heather sat next to her holding James. Annie stopped crying and asked if she could hold her brother. Heather put James into Annie’s lap and Annie cuddled her brother and told him what happened. It was very sweet, and a relief to see her calm again. That night we checked on her through the night every couple of hours – it wasn’t hard since we were usually up with James anyway – and in the morning she cheerfully announced, “I feel better!”
Heather might roll her eyes when she reads this next part because between the two of us I’m definitely the bigger worrywart/over-protector, but all things considered I’m surprised at how well I’ve been able to cope with knowing that anything can happen to our kids at any time. Having been in the room with Madeline when the worst possible thing happened, it’s now impossible for me not to go there in my mind when something scary happens. But though I may freak out for a second, I quickly get a hold of myself. Today, though I may still be a little shaky, I’ve put what happened this weekend behind me. It’s the only way to live, really. If I spent every second paranoid that I might lose Annie or James the way I lost Maddie I wouldn’t be living much of a life.
Still, it’s all damn scary, and you don’t have to have lost a child to know how true that is when something happens to your kid. I can’t tell you how happy I am that Annie is okay and back to trolling for ice cream.