She is in her room, supposedly putting on her pajamas and getting ready for bed, when a blood-curdling scream erupts from her bedroom. “Daaaaaa-deeeeeeee!” She yelps at the top of her lungs before loudly barking out a percussive shouts of of “help me! help me! help me!” from a short distance down the hallway.
Five seconds later I’m standing in her doorway trying not to laugh as I’m watching her writhe around on the carpet, buck-naked save for a pair of underwear around her ankles. Blood is dribbling down the arch of her foot, and spattering on the light-toned carpet. “What the heck did you do?” I ask.
She’s hyperventilating, and barely able to answer. “I… I… hit my… f… foot… on the… b… b… bed!” She stutters, implying by the acrobatic nature of this injury that she was goofing around and that the tiny slice on the sole of her foot had been entirely preventable.
I don’t push that particular issue. Not now, anyhow.
“Well, get your pants on and I’ll get some tissues.” I say, deliberately too casual over the droplets of blood on the floor and the obvious pain.
When I return to her bedroom with a wad of tissues, a bandage and a glass of water, she’s sitting up, underwear where it should be, and trying to twist the bottom of her foot into her field of vision.
“Are you going to live?” I ask.
She glares at me and says in a voice still trying to gain its full composure a weak little “yes.”
“Then let’s get into the bathroom,” I say placidly, almost coming across a little too indifferent, but reaching down to help her upright and walk her to the other room. “I’ll wash it up and put a bandage on it, ok?”
fostering independence, rule 016
set an example for handling emergencies: keep calm and carry on
One of the toughest things I had to learn about being a dad with a kid who has a world of opportunity open to her, is that sometimes that opportunity has a sharp edge. She’s going to get scrapes and cuts and bruises, and so long as there aren’t too many of the kinds that end up with a trip to the hospital, I’m probably doing my job. I still feel that hurt every time I see it, but I’ve made a conscious effort to keep calm and just play out those situations with a calm demeanor and a little humour.
Not over-reacting to those injuries is tough, but a valuable example to set. A level-headed response to minor wounds or simply not panicking when blood is dripping onto the bedroom carpet undoubtedly leads to practiced parallel responses when lives are actually on the line and when a “freak out” could cost valuable response time. As a parent, we’re important role models for how to handle emergencies, and doing so in a calm, deliberate way can’t help but build a kid’s independent nature in encountering the inevitable sharp edges of life.