I’m pretty sure that guilt is slamming your kid’s finger in a car door and then hearing HER apologize to YOU while planting kisses all over your face and repeating, “Make it all better, Mommy.”
Such was last Wednesday.
It was picture day at camp. Lexi wore her camp shirt (which doubled as a nightgown) and when I picked her up, she was happy as could be. “I had fun, Mommy.” “Camp is fun always.” “I smile in picture.” Great!
I carry her to the car, nuzzling her. It’s three hours that she’s away from me and I miss my buddy. I open the back door on her side and realize the guy to the left of me is parked way too close and is starting his engine. He puts the car in gear and starts rolling out. I noticed he didn’t see us, so I jumped back quickly because I didn’t want the car to hit us. My backward motion caused the back door of the car to close. I hear Lexi crying and it takes three seconds to realize it is because half of her finger is missing… on the other side of the door.
I open it and yell for the nearest staff member, who runs us to the nurse. After what seems like forever, she gets the bleeding to stop. We have blood all over both of us and all I want to know is if her finger is in one piece, but I can’t see the tip of it. They take a cursory look at the gash and announce that she will probably need stitches and an X-ray to see if it’s broken. I am eerily calm and nod my head, holding Lexi and telling her it’s okay.
The second I get her in the car on the way to urgent care, the tears start coming. I pull over, temporarily blinded. It is the worst feeling I’ve felt as a parent – my child is hurt, and I caused it. Sure, I was trying to keep us safe, but knowing the pain she was feeling hurt my heart so deeply, I was surprised by my own choking sobs. I called Cory and he begged me to hold it together and be strong for Lexi. Five minutes later, we arrived and sat in the waiting room – me crying softly, Lexi sitting facing me on my lap, nuzzling my cheek.
“I sorry, Mommy.” “Finger hurt.”
More sobs coming from me. In five years as a parent, I never had more than a scraped knee to deal with and this was just awful.
We were a sweaty, teary mess when we got into the examination room. Lexi waited patiently and stared at her bandaged finger with a small Dora sticker on it. The TV went on and the nurse brought her three lollipops.
“I want red.”
Two minutes later, “I done, Mommy. Now orange.”
And then, “I done. Purple now.”
We went for x-rays and my little angel sat on the table draped in a vest and held her little hand still while the technician took pictures. I couldn’t believe how calm and sweet she was being while her finger undoubtedly throbbed with pain.
Nothing fractured, but the gaping hole would need stitches.
Before the doctor could stitch her finger, Lexi had to sit for 15 minutes with her hand in some cleaning solution. She watched Nick Jr. patiently, not moving at all. Every few seconds, she would pucker up for a kiss and I swelled with love at this little being. When the doctor injected her finger with anesthesia, she let out a cry but nothing compared to how I would react in the same situation. Kids are amazing.
By now it was nearing 2 o’clock and the events of the day were beginning to wear on us both. During one of her hugs, I felt Lexi’s head get heavy and her eyes began to close. The doctor was coming in momentarily, so I gently lifted Lexi’s hand out of the solution and laid her down on the examination chair. She fell asleep instantly.
It freaked me out to see her sleeping like that, like she was unconscious at a hospital or something, and I kept my head on her chest just to feel her breathe. When the doctor came in, I explained that she may sleep through the entire procedure, which she did. Every time the little hook went into her finger, she flinched but remained asleep.
The doctor advised us to come back in 7 days to look at the stitches and said she could attend camp but no swimming while the wound healed. Armed with 5 more lollipops, we were on our way home.
I took her back yesterday for a check-up and when I parked the car in the lot, she said, “You sad, Mommy?” She remembered how emotional I was when we arrived a week ago. Again, I was amazed by her compassion for me in what was surely an emotional and no doubt painful experience for her.
The wound healed nicely but the doctor wanted the stitches in until Friday, just to be safe. Best to make sure none of Lexi’s camp activities cause the stitches to open.
My little girl taught me a lot about being strong and got me thinking about how whiny I get at the littlest ache or pain. Sometimes I forget that we not only teach our kids, but that they teach us, too.