Playing doctor is a current favorite in our house. Axel asks me if I’ve hurt my chin, and then I say, “Yes!” He proceeds to poke and prod at me with each piece of his doctor’s kit, and with all of the tools from his toolbox – you can’t be too thorough. Thermometer in my ear, drill against my elbow, screw driver to the toe, Band Aid on my nose and I’m good to go.
Based on this last week, all that playing doctor was a good idea, because it prepared us for lots of modern medicine. Axel is a very good patient.
First, Jonas came down with croup. Again. Each kid seems to have an illness – there are strep throat kids, sinus infection kids, stomach bug kids. Jonas is prone to barking like a seal and keeping his parents up all night. The moment the sign went up at his childcare center anouncing the presence of croup, we knew we were in trouble.
And Axel’s thing? Apparently, in the tradition of super-active, daredevil children everwhere, it’s stitches.
On our way home on Tuesday, I contemplated swinging by someplace to pick up dinner but decided that, no, I would be responsible and healthy and a good mama and make dinner. Not 15 minutes into dinner prep, Axel smacked his lip on the edge of our wooden kids-sized table.
Just as Jonas hit the end of three nights of croup, and I could see the light of a sleepful night, Axel interrupted with a blood-soaked face.
There’s some weird parenting rule that emergencies must occur when only one parent is home. So, of course, Sean – the one parent who really knows how to deal with blood and gaping wounds – was on shift. I did my best calm mother impersonation. During a crisis, I find it helps to pretend to be someone far more calm and responsible. Like my third grade teacher, or Mrs. Brady, or my own mom. I called Sean, packed up the diaper bag with snacks, put the half-cooked dinner in the microwave so the dog wouldn’t leave another mess to clean up, and loaded the boys into the car for a dinnertime trip to the local urgent care.
There, I learned that “urgent care” isn’t the right term. If it’s urgent – like, say, your kid need stitches – you should just go to the ER, because that’s what the doctor will tell you to do anyway. Axel’s cut went deep into his lip and over into the skin below, making it rather tricky to sew up. Maybe they should call it Bad Cold Care. Or Stubbed Your Toe Care. Or The Doctor’s Office Closed at 4:30 and I Need A Prescription for Antibiotics to Take Care of This Weird Rash Care.
Really, I was glad that the doctor told me she thought she’d be more likely to leave a scar, and that more experienced skin-stitchers would do better, even if I was annoyed that I wasted almost two hours at the urgent care office that could’ve been spent waiting in the actual ER. Also, I thought she looked just a bit young. I know, I shouldn’t say that, and in the past I had my fair share of people thinking I was on the young side so I know how annoying that can be, but when it’s a doctor who’s taking care of your kid who has a big gaping wound for the second time in less than six months, wrinkles are kind of comforting. I’m pretty sure I babysat this doctor back in 1995.
I was not glad that the kid who cleaned out Axel’s cut – poor, brave and bloody Axel, who had to sit next to me on a chair because I was holding Jonas down in my lap to keep him from breaking the heart rate monitor and licking the germy floor – kept calling him Dude. Dude is fine for 9-year-olds with skateboarding injuries. But not quite three-year-olds who’ve only been out of diapers for a few months have not reached Dude status, especially when bloody water is dripping down their chin and soaking their shirt and they just need a hug. OK, Dude? I kept my mouth shut, because that just might’ve been my mama bear overreaction. Axel didn’t mind the cut part or the blood, but the wet shirt was too much for him to take. Thankfully, Mr. Dude gave Axel a few towels to dry up the wet shirt, so he wasn’t all bad.
By the time we left the non-urgent care office, Sean had arranged to come off of shift and meet up with us, so he took Axel to get his stitches while I coaxed still- croupy Jonas to sleep. Then, I worked on decorations for Axel’s (as yet unscheduled) birthday party while I waited for them. What better time to be productive than when someone’s sticking a needle in your baby’s face and he’s throwing up popsicle?
Finally, at midnight, Sean and Axel made it home, and Axel grunted while we changed him into his favorite food-covered pajamas. Not real food, but pictures of food. Jonas has a pair that matches, with makes Axel very happy. Food jammies for everyone!
He slept in, and when he woke up, he ate star toast (fried egg-in-toast, with a star cookie cutter used to take out a bit of bread from the middle), oatmeal, and fruit, to make up for his lack of a dinner. He showed off his new stitches, finely sewn with light blue thread.
With seven stitches, I think Axel’s reached his quota for the year, and for his pre-k existence. The same is true of croup. Let’s leave the barking to the seals, and the stitches to the X-Games, shall we?