There are few things that make my stomach drop quite like seeing the number of the daycare pop up on my caller ID, but that is exactly what happened on my way to pick Anders and Danica up from pre-school yesterday. My heart was pounding before I even managed to say hello. It was Anders’ teacher’s voice I heard on the other end.
“I am sure you are on your way to pick him up and I don’t want you to be alarmed when you get here, so I’m calling to let you know Anders has cut his finger. It’s pretty bad. I think it is going to need stitches.”
I could hear Anders sobbing in the background. My foot pressed harder on the gas pedal.
“What happened? Is he all right?” I asked.
“I accidentally slammed his finger in the bathroom door,” she said. I could tell from the sound of her voice that she was almost as upset as Anders was.
When I arrived, I found my son red-faced and shaking, his finger bandaged and bloody clutched against his chest. I managed to calm him down enough to allow me to take a look under the band-aid. I’ll save you the (very) gory details, but minutes later we were on our way to the emergency room.
Lucky for us, the evening crowd hadn’t made it to the hospital yet — most private practices had only been closed for a half hour — and the waiting room was practically empty. It didn’t take long before we were ushered back to a room where a doctor came to have a peek at his injury. She explained to him that he would need an X-ray to make sure nothing was broken and that before he went home his finger would need sutures. Of course, having lived a relatively un-scathed life to date, he hadn’t heard the word sutures before that moment and wanted to know its meaning.
“Well, we’re going to take some thread and close your wound up and make you better,” she told him.
“How does the thread get into my skin?” He asked me after the doctor left the room.
If you have never had to explain to a 5-year-old that someone is about to take a needle and physically sew their skin closed let me assure you, it’s no fun. Especially when, after you’ve detailed the procedure as honestly as you can, he looks you in the face, eyes wide, and asks you if it’s going to hurt.
“Hell yes it is going to hurt,” I thought.
“Maybe a little at first,” I said out loud.
First came the X-ray. We were relieved to learn that nothing was broken and Anders was excited to get a look at his bones. Then it was time for the stitches. A nurse came in to assist the doctor and they asked that I help restrain him to keep him from moving during the procedure.
“Make sure you really have a hold of him,” the doctor told me. “You’ll be surprised how strong he is when we begin numbing his finger.”
There are a lot of situations in my daily life as a parent that I consider difficult — getting up in the middle of the night when I’m exhausted, enduring the embarrassment of a tantrum in the grocery store aisle, constantly mediating sibling rivalry — but restraining my child while he cried out in pain made all those moments seem incredibly inconsequential.
I have to say though, the experience taught me a lot about how strong my son is. He was very brave. While he cried a bit as they numbed him up, he was calm for most of the procedure. In fact, he was down right inquisitive. I can’t say I would have behaved half as well as he did in that situation and I’m (technically) a grown-up.
Anders left the hospital that night with a lollipop and four stitches in his finger and I left with a renewed appreciation for our health and well-being.
Have you ever had to take a trip to the emergency room with your child?