FLASHBACK to Fall 2004

It seemed that Halie had just begun Kindergarten, and we were talking about a perfect attendance record. She was learning quickly, was getting well acclimated to school, and had made a friend of the young boy who lived next door. Shortly after that, I invited him to the park with us, just about two miles away. When I parked in a spot near the playground, Halie, Catie and their new friend made a mad dash for various parts of the park. I had just released one of the restraints on Rosie when I heard a scream. I quickly looked to see the children’s’ faces.

Had it been the boy? No, he was laughing.

Could it have been Catie? No, she was swinging.

Rosie was still in front of me, with one arm free.

But where was Halie?

I saw another mom running towards me with Halie sulking behind her. The woman was yelling that Halie had a split lip, and was seriously bleeding. The helpful mom ran to her car to get fast-food napkins to absorb the flow, while Halie approached me. My brave daughter was not crying, with her hands covering her mouth, when reality hit me: those tiny hands were covered in blood. As I’m comforting ALL the kids, my thoughts were these:

Oh great.

Do I have my cell phone? No.

D0 I have my purse? No.

Do I have my driver’s license or insurance card? NO! Damn.

The Good Samaritan Mom gave Halie the wad of napkins while I loaded all my kids, plus the neighbor’s son back into the van. Poor Rosie never even touched the ground!

My brain switched instantly over to what I call ‘Medic Mode’ – I became very matter-of-fact about the whole thing. I drove back to our house where I knew my DH was, and didn’t have to say a word to the neighbor about heading back to his house pronto. The boy who is normally a beautiful shade of latte was almost the color of notebook paper. I asked the girls to stay put while I ran into the house.

My husband greeted me as I walked in the front door. ( He knew something was wrong, since I didn’t come in through the garage.) I explained that I needed to take Halie to the ER because she’d come up against a playground bully and she was bleeding from her mouth. While I retrieved my license and insurance card, DH took a wet washcloth out to our daughter, thinking I was too calm for Halie to be seriously injured. I must be dramatizing a minor injury. As I stepped out the front door, I saw DH backing away from the van. Quickly, he turned and ran for the house. When he passed me, my DH blurted out, “I’ll meet you there!”

Luckily, we live about four blocks from the ER, and Halie was taken in right away. She required six stitches to close the split between her upper lip and the base of her nose. The plastic surgeon, knowing my medical background (read: EMT, which is just enough knowledge to avoid sounding like an idiot), invited me to observe the intricate procedure of restoring my daughter’s smile. What an honor! I had not actually looked at the injury until that point. After the first stitch, I was feeling a little woozy, and started looking for a chair – fast. The surgeon laughed and said to me, “It’s just not the same when it’s your child, is it?”

Halie had to miss school the next day (doctor’s orders), but I finally got the story from the victim. When she returned to school, she had some serious bragging rights. Well, at least as much as respect as a small child who has been viciously attacked by a steel-spring-mounted, concrete-set carousel horse can get.

Okay, second time in less than five years we’ve been to the ER for this child. I’m not kidding when I tell folks that my girls are actually boys in floral prints.

Oh yeah. I forgot to mention this: that front tooth she just pulled out? It was knocked loose by the same hostile playground equipment last year. And no, there’s no noticeable scar.

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