There’s nothing like a bloody seven-year-old to bring things into focus.
Saturday, George was working a ten-hour day of side jobs, so I decided to finish up my weekly cleaning, bake some bread and granola, and a nice big pot of chicken & dumplings from a new recipe I wanted to try (courtesy The Pioneer Woman).
I breakfasted the kids, cleaned the kitchen, put in laundry, cleaned the living room from ceiling to floor, changed laundry again, and made lunch for the kids (just a typical day, really). George asked if he could use a paper towel to make a cape for the Harry Potter LEGO character he found. I decided to do one better; I gave him some scraps of black cotton material and showed him how to draw the pattern and cut it out, then cut a hole in the top so it would fit over the neck.
“Wow, Mommy, that’s really smart!”
There really is no higher compliment from a child who really believes he does know everything.
After cleaning up the lunch mess, I decided to give myself a break and sit down with my knitting for a half an hour. No sooner had I picked up my needles, when there was a scream from the basement. Now, if you are a parent, you know what I mean by ‘scream’. Not a ‘hey, you took the LEGO I was going to build with!’ but a ‘THIS IS SERIOUS’ scream that makes your heart stop.
Georgie came tearing through the house, holding his hand, blood streaming, crying and screaming incoherently.
I made him calm down and show me his wound. It looked like the top left side of his middle finger was gone at an angle, but it was hard to tell with all the blood. I herded him to the kitchen sink, still trying to calm him down, trying to clean up the cut so I could gauge the severity. Stella and Ethan were in the kitchen, too; Stella crying and Ethan upset, but trying to keep from crying. After finally clearing away enough blood to see the actual wound, I sent Stella to the bathroom and Ethan to get shoes and jackets, then into the van. I called George, told him I was taking Georgie to the ER, and tried to explain what had happened to his finger. Upon hearing that we were going to hospital, Georgie started wailing again.
“George. GEORGE. Stop crying and listen to me.” I tend to sound angry when I’m worried or afraid. “Am I freaking out? No? Did I call an ambulance? No? Then there is nothing to freak out about. You are only allowed to freak out if I freak out. Now slip these shoes on and go out to the van.”
It’s funny, ERs tend to see you quickly when you have blood streaming down your arm and dripping onto the floor. The hospital staff was excellent, each nurse, Child Life Specialist, doctor and records clerk listening patiently as George recounted (for the tenth time) how he was trying to cut out a cape for his LEGO guy and used the Really Sharp Scissors to cut a hole for the head and cut the skin off the side of his finger. After the bleeding finally slowed, they used a gelfoam covering for the area where the skin had been sheared away, bandaged him up and sent him home. It bled off and on all night, but finally stopped sometime Sunday.
I had been fine, in complete control, until George showed up at the hospital. While he talked to Georgie, I went out into the hall, had a little cry, then squared my shoulders and went back in. After we were discharged, I went to Chick-Fil-A to pick up dinner, and we headed home. After eating, I crashed on the couch with the kids and we watched a few movies, waiting for George to get home from work. I could not believe how absolutely drained I was.
What do you do when faced with an emergency with one of your children? I go into Total Control mode: Do this, get ready, go here, get it fixed. Who cares that you’re wearing sweatpants and a bleach-stained hoodie and that you haven’t brushed your hair today; your focus is to care for your child. And then fall apart later. Everything changes, and priorities are brought brutally into focus: care for this child’s needs immediately. Dinner plans, cleaning, changing into ‘outside’ shoes; everything goes by the wayside as we focus on what Really Needs Done.
There’s been a lot going on lately, both within our immediate family and with our extended family. My mother-in-law is ill, requiring round-the-clock care. As with anything, there are some disputes with regard to how best to proceed. I see this and think, What really matters? Caring for mom. Not egos, not opinions, not ‘well this is what I would want if it were me.’
This extends into so many other areas of life; what matters most with our home? Should we expand it, or make the existing size suffice? Should we sell and move somewhere else? Friends who have been downsized in this economy have said that losing their job really brings life into sharper focus. Needs vs. wants become jarringly clear, and it’s much easier to make decisions based on necessity.
This situation was a reminder for me that, ultimately, the safety and well-being of my kids is my paramount concern. They’re so small, and still dependent upon us for unconditional love and protection. I want to make sure that those needs are always met to the best of my ability, that I never get lost in the minutiae of The Little Things and lose that focus.