Thursday, February 24, 2011

My scariest parenting moment...finally, in print

Sometimes, things happen in parenthood that are just perfect for a blog.

Sometimes, things happen in parenthood that one can not really write about in a blog.

And I'm not talking about "private" stuff. I'm talking about stuff that is just too painful to rehash. Stuff that, when it happens, you're strong and capable and do what you gotta do, but once it's over, you just don't ever want to go There again.

This past summer, something like that happened, and when it was over, my friend immediately said: "Well, there's a perfect blog post!" But it never made it on the blog, because I know Me...I know what my head does...I know the potential for Crazy Shit that can happen up in there. So when it was over, it was done.

But today, this incident was revisited, and it came back, rushing at me, forcing me to finally get it out, write it down, and (hopefully) let it go.

So...the Incident was really, no big deal. Surely, many of you reading this will have similar stories. But this happened to My Kid. And it changed me, just a little bit, forever.


It had been my idea to go ice skating. Ben had shown some interest, and it was the one thing on my Summer To Do List of activities that we had not yet tried. So on the week before the end of summer, we spent the afternoon--Daddy, Mama, and 4-year-old Ben ice skating (or should I say hobbling?).

Ben was pretty good. For a kid who can barely roller blade, he took to the ice rather quickly. At first, he'd just dare a few slides from here to there. By the end of the hour, when we had about 5 minutes left, he decided to go off a little further. I had skated away from him at this point, wanting to see him from afar, wanting to take it in: this little little boy, big grin on his face, brows furrowed in concentration, slip sliding around, almost gracefully.

That's precisely when it happened. I watched the skates slip out suddenly from under him. His body flew up in the air and he landed backwards, head first. As Hubby and I skated over to him, bystanders and skaters and employees rushed over. One mom, I remember, gasped audibly and held her hand over her open, shocked mouth, and uttered a horrified "It was such a loud thump!" when I came over. I remember thinking she was probably one of those moms... But Ben was standing up. He was crying, but he seemed okay. There was no blood. No bump. No evidence.

Within a few minutes, the crying had stopped, and as he sat with his makeshift ice pack on his head, we jokingly took a picture with our cellphone to send to the grandparents. We thought it might be funny to "freak them out a little bit." We came home and Ben asked to watch TV and have some milk and cookies. He seemed fine.

Long story short: about 40 minutes after the hit, he started to cry, almost inconsolably. His tummy hurt. No, his head hurt. No, he thought he was going to throw up. He felt weird. While I called the pediatrician, he started to yawn, rub his eyes, continue to whine. By the time we arrived at the pediatrician's office, less than 10 minutes later, he was throwing up into a Ziploc bag and turning white. By the time we arrived at the ER, less than 8 minutes later, his lips were grey, his eyes were glazed over, and he couldn't tell us his name.

Over the next couple of hours, I watched as my son was strapped onto a table for a brain scan. I watched as he bravely looked away when they put in the IV. I watched as he started to "come back" and begin to question the nurse's skills. By the time the doctor came back with the results that he was okay and that it was "just a concussion," he had started to look and sound like himself again.


Nothing really happened.
Lots of kids have to go to the ER.
Lots of kids bump their heads.
Lots of parents have scary moments with their kids.

But watching my son go from perfectly normal to looking like he was completely drugged and didn't know who he was...this boy who always has something to say, always has an answer to everything, this boy with the full pink pout that suddenly was not even the color of his skin...that will remain with me forever.

And that thought...the one of how it could have, very easily, gone the other way...that's the thought I simply did not want to entertain ever again.

Today, I got a call from his school. He was okay, but he had fallen backward and hit his head on the concrete. When I arrived at the school, I scanned the playground area and recognized his navy blue shirt and royal blue athletic shorts. He was hanging from the monkey bars. I could not have been more relieved. But still, in the car, on the way home, I watched him closely in the rear view mirror. At the first yawn, I panicked: Did he always seem this tired after school? When he said his tummy hurt, I wondered: Does he usually go potty at this time? The memories came rushing back. The fear, the anxiety, the incredible amount of gratitude (at Life, at God, at Luck?) that he was okay.


My son was okay.

**After I was done with this post and was proofing it, I heard Hubby (who was bathing the boys) ask Ben to let him see his eyes. Immediately, I went to the bathroom: What? What is it? Hubby said he thought Ben's eyes looked shadowy, but in the light, it seemed so did Aidan's. "You know it's when you're looking for stuff to find," Hubby explained. Meanwhile, my heart started pumping, the anxiety, the fear...that fear that Something Is Wrong. Here's the worst part of parenting: you just can't protect them.**


  1. No, love. You cannot protect them. No matter how hard we try. You can't swaddle them in cotton - no matter how hard you try.

    Parenting is the hardest freakin' gig EVER. Yes, we were told this before they were even born - but we had no idea. None.

    I'm glad he's okay.

  2. Oh Liz, I had no idea this had happened this summer...How dreadfully scary...It makes you want to bubble wrap them, doesn't it?

    Had I known this afternoon, you would have received a genuine hug from someone who knows all too well, my friend.

    So glad it was nothing, even though it was something...

  3. We had a chocking scare with our little one last year. It was over very quickly, but when it was, I honestly felt like the energy drained from my arms and legs and I had to sit down. I was literally weak at the knees with fear and completely humbled by how quickly things can go from perfectly normal to scarier than hell. Glad your boy is OK.

    It's been a while since I've been by- Love the new masthead!

  4. that's choking, not chocking. My spelling is scary, too!

  5. There is nothing like the sound of a child's head hitting something hard. It makes me sick to my stomach every time. And the worrying? All day, every day, with everything, my friend. I completely understand!

  6. Holy crap...I think my heart just stopped for a sec. I am so glad he was okay and that today was okay too. Seriously...this parenting gig is like one giant anxiety attack sometimes!


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