I remember falling off of my bike once. I was fairly little, and extremely proud for learning to ride it without the need for stabilisers anymore. That all quickly disappeared when I hit a curb at a less than precise angle and hurtled over the handle bars onto the cold, wet concrete face first. The results were a graze to both my upper lip and the tip of my nose that instantly began to bleed quite badly.
I remember my Mum checking me over and giving me a hug before holding a flannel to the wounds on my face. I remember the sting of the graze and the shock I felt at being fine one moment then falling and pained the next. And I remember going to bed that night with a fat lip and the taste of metal in my mouth from the blood congealing over the top of the cuts, and running my tongue over them in amazement that such a thing could happen to one’s face!
The reason I’m writing this memory, especially in its vivid detail, is because at the time, I never realised that it was all a part of life experience and about the importance of learning a lesson. It taught me to be more cautious of curbs and to pay full attention to what I was doing whilst out on my bike.
The whole reason we fall is to teach us how not to fall, and that, if we do, we can get back up again.
However, there isn’t a lesson for us from the perspective of a parent, on how to react or deal with our own children getting hurt. When I think back to my own Mother’s reaction if we ever fell or tripped or collided with something, I can now empathise with the effort that went into showing a calm exterior whilst one’s interior is going bat shit crazy with all kinds of emotions… mainly guilt, shock, worry and a million and one worst case scenarios. That is a lesson we can only learn once we are parents ourselves, as and when it arises… and it is a hard one to take.
Today, I took BB to a farm. It was my sister’s birthday and we took our collective brood off to burn some energy, running around and feeding chickens and goats and such like. BB is living up to the toddler label by toddling about, sometimes maintaining perfect balance and ease of movement whilst other times making my heart skip beats with teetering stances that remind me of a drunkard weaving up the street.
I decided to capture a couple of cute picture moments of his antics on my phone and just as I was putting my phone away in my pocket, I looked up in time to see BB lose balance and face plant the farm’s gravel path.
There were tears, mud, grit, snot, saliva and blood and all I could do was gather him up and hold him close. Cue the panic. The mind whirled and I could feel stares from concerned onlookers and possibly even judgement from any who had seen me on my phone rather than right in front of my child with my arms outstretched. Cue our friend: ‘Guilt’.
I stayed calm (outwardly), relied on my sister to pass me baby wipes and water to wash away all the debris and as I did, the hardest thing to witness was the pain and confusion that kept tripping across my BB’s little innocent face. Then came our other friend: ‘Worry’. What if he’s chipped a tooth? What if he’s caught a bug from all the farm muck on the floor? What if he doesn’t stop bleeding? What if he gets a scar?
Luckily we were due to leave the farm anyway, but I was in such a blinkered post-accident blur that I barely remembered to say a proper goodbye to my sister, let alone my niece and nephew. I was on autopilot and eager to get home, primal instinct urging me to safety I suppose.
On the drive home BB went from the odd whimper to sudden smiles and giggles, the memory of what had happened 20 minutes prior completely gone from his mind. I, on the other hand, was still reliving what had happened and dealing with the arrival of our final friend: Shock. How could a split second be the difference between fine and not fine? The swiftness and speed that these accidents and even near accidents happen is ridiculous. You’d have to be the bloody Flash to avoid every single one of them.
But, as I said, it is all about learning. And, as hard as it is to accept, our most treasured little people have to and will get hurt from time to time in order to help them see the importance of not getting hurt. It is a lesson we all learn and that is kept mainly in our subconscious. As for my lesson on being the parent to the afflicted, my sister put it eloquently:
“The memory of this won’t stay with him for long, but it will stay with you forever”.
*BB is absolutely fine after his trip and bats me away for fussing too much over his wounds…. which, incidentally, are healing very nicely and not gangrenous from the amount of goose/duck/chicken/pig/sheep and cat shit that must have been present on the floor he collided with!
|BB, just before he took a trip, in his cute bobble hat with my little Nephew.