January 10, 2012

Don't Panic

With thanks to Douglas Adams
This is advice I don't often need.

You see, I am VERY good in a genuinely bad situation.  I panic in Ikea, sure, but that's different.  You should have seen me the night that M was diagnosed with brain cancer.  When bad things happen, I shut them down.  That simple.  You have to be in control, on top of your game.  You have to be ready to make hard decisions and to do what needs to be done.

This is probably why my friends without insurance come to me to give them stitches and lance their MRSA abscesses.  But those are stories for another time.

At any rate, I am pretty good at keeping cool in the face of disaster.

Or so I thought.

You see, this weekend DD decided that it would be a good idea to test my mommy zen.  To find out how flappable I can be.  It turns out, very flappable.

M was busy assembling our new Ikea furniture (pictures to come, it's just wonderful!).  To distract the children from the unimaginable amount of mayhem they could create, I brought them into our room to enjoy our new television- another holiday gift from my doting husband.  As we watched Yo Gabba Gabba for hours on end, I had to keep coming up with additional distractions.  One of which was jewelry.

My little girls love playing with jewelry.  And I have a lot more than you might imagine for somebody who doesn't wear it terribly often, feels uncomfortable wearing much in the way of jewelry, and has allergies to most metals.  So I dumped out all my shinies onto the bed, and we played dress up with it for a while.

Finally, the girls were having no more of this.  They wanted to go figure out where Daddy was and what all that banging was about.  I made them put the pretties back on the bed, but DD was determined to take a few with her.

The jewelry she could not leave behind were three glass bangles.  The only glass bangles I have ever had, to my knowledge.  They were forged in Israel, at a rediscovered Greek facility some 2300 years old.  Which is pretty darn neat.

Apparentely, DD thought so.  She found them much more interesting than the necklaces, the beads, the wooden pendants... all of that.  So when she got off the bed, she insisted on taking the glass bracelets wither her.  I told her she had to put them back on the bed.  So instead, she removed them from her arm, clutched them in her tiny fist, and ran away as fast as she could.  Naturally, my very clumsy little girl tripped.

And as if in slow motion, I watched her fall.

Arms held in front of her.

Fingers splayed.

Giant peices of fucking glass clutched in her tiny, tiny little fist.

And completely unable to stop what was happening, I screamed.  "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

But it was too late.  My little girls crashed, beautiful glass first, into the floor.

The bracelets shattered.  Shards of colored glass everywhere.

And blood... God there was just so much damned blood...

Then her screaming began.  She sat up before I could reach her, shards of glass still sticking out of her hand.  There was blood on her face... on her clothes... and it was all over the floor.

M came running as I screamed for help.  First he hoisted her off the floor, making himself a bloody mess in the process.  I grabbed SI before she could run through the broken glass now covering the floor.  In an agonizing rush, I traded children with M and dashed DD to the bathroom to begin the process of de-glassing her.

Now picture it bleeding copiously.
I had no idea what to expect.  All I know is that I was PANICKING.  I was utterly terrified.  Would we need to rush to a hospital?  Was there glass embedded deeply somewhere?  I had no clue.

As I washed her hands, she screamed and screamed and screamed.  I know how much cleaning out a cut hurts, and there were REALLY NASTY cuts all over her hand.  But I became more and more confident that she was okay, that she wouldn't need to go to a hospital, and that I could take care of it.

As it turned out, the only really bad cuts were one on her index finger, and one cutting a crescent around what you would call her mound of Jupiter.  While they both bled like mad, neither seemed to be particularly deep.  She calmed down significantly as soon as I began talking about band-aids, and another five minutes later she was sitting on my lap, breath hitching but no longer screaming or crying, watching intently as I fixed up her little mitt.

Once she was properly patched up, I asked her if she wanted a hug.

We spent the next half an hour sitting on the stool in the bathroom, hugging.  I told her how brave she was, and how sorry I was that she got hurt, and how glad I was that she was okay, and how much I loved her.  And I told her that THAT was why Mommy wanted her to put down the bracelets, and that Mommy means it when she doesn't let her do things, because there is a reason.

She babbled occasionally, saying things like, "Thank you, mommy."  And, "I sorry, mommy."  And, "Me no sad, mommy make me happy."  And, "I love you."

And I don't know how much she needed that, but I sure has hell did.  I could have sat in that bathroom clutching her all freakin' week.

My heart was racing for hours.  As lucky as she was, and that kid was INSANELY lucky, so much worse could have happened.  With those shards of glass in her hand, she could have touched her eyes.  Or one of those shards could have cut her wrist.  Or it could have gone really deeply into her hand.  She was so lucky.

So lucky.

Which makes me SO lucky.

And if there was anything I could do to keep anything like this from happening again... I'd like to say that I would.  My gut impulse is to make sure that every possible danger is out of the way, that there is absolutely nothing in her environment that could cause her pain.

But I've already made my parenting decisions here.  I don't want her to grow up in a bubble.  I want her to experience some pain, some anger, some misery.  In short, I want her to experience life.  I don't want her to grow up with no understanding of danger, or having had the whole world handed to her in a safe, easy way.  No matter how much I love her.

No matter how much watching her bleed and scream was one of the most awful and terrifying experiences of my life.

I want her to grow up.

And a lot of that involves experiences that suck.

So I'm not going to keep her from ever playing with something potentially dangerous again.

But I can't promise that if something goes horribly wrong, I'm not going to panic.


  1. Wow, I'm so glad DD wasn't hurt too badly. (And also sorry your special bracelets were broken.) It's so scary when something happens to your child (my daughter bit a chunk from her tongue, fell on her head from a small height twice and swallowed Listerine). It always makes me feel so helpless, unless there's something I can do right away. I agree that kids need to experience everything in life, the ups and downs, so they will be prepared for it, even when it hurts mamas' hearts to watch them go through it.

  2. So sorry you had to go through that trauma. No fun to EVER see your babies hurt, no matter how old they get! But, they live and they learn. And so do we :) I am a new follower and hope to see you over at my blog for a quick hello! Have a great day! http://surroundedby3pink.blogspot.com

  3. No, you certainly don't want to "live in a bubble." Fight or flight... it comes back and there's no avoiding it. You did good Mommy and she did even better in the aftermath!



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