When the Little Dude woke up the next morning he wanted to check out the bright yellow raincoat he’d received. And as I was headed out the door to take him to preschool, Mrs. Dude handed it to me to bring for him. When we got to school, I took the coat and his backpack out of my car and put them on the Little Dude for our short walk to his classroom. We climbed the slippery steps as a light mist coated our heads. I was content wearing a t-shirt and light fleece sweatshirt. Most of the other parents and kids appeared dressed for upcoming cruises on Noah’s Ark.
After we ascended the steps, we reached the courtyard which is where the Little Dude usually starts to get really excited for school. He started to take off his backpack, as he often does, and when we reached his room he was ready to play. I started to take off his jacket as he entered the room, but apparently the cuffs were a bit small and his hands got stuck while he walked. As his momentum carried him forward, his arms moved behind him like a bird taking flight. When his feet touched the slippery tile floor below him, the Little Dude dropped to the ground. Chin first. Ouch.
I didn’t know what to do as I watched my first born crying on the floor. I hoped it was just due to shock and not actual injury, but couldn’t tell from my angle. I dropped his jacket, which I’d finally wrestled off his wrists and went to pick him up.
There is no worse feeling as a parent than watching your child crying for a legitimate reason. Not “I want ice cream!” or “I don’t want to go to bed” crying, but rather “This freakin’ hurts! Help me!”
I picked him up and he clung to me like stink on a sardine. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pry his face from my chest to assess the damage. We went to sit in the nearby school office, to avoid scaring the other kids, when I finally got a peak. His light-blue tie-dyed shirt now bore a significant red pattern. I was thankful that my sweatshirt was both zipped up and a dark maroonish color, aka the lone option that wouldn’t show any blood leakage.
Someone brought him a bag of ice, but he wasn’t interested. After what felt like 20 minutes, but was probably 3 or 4, of hysteria. I spotted some Hot Wheels and model cars directly next to us. I used a yellow Lamborghini as a distraction and within a few minutes the Little Dude resumed breathing again.
I asked the teacher what the protocol is in a situation like that, but honestly didn’t hear her answer. She said that despite the blood, it didn’t look too bad and he probably didn’t need further attention beyond the Band-Aid they’d administered. Once calm, we headed back to the classroom and I stayed for another 15 minutes to play and observe before heading out once things seemed copacetic.
The tricky part came next: what to tell Mrs. Dude. I didn’t want to make a big deal about it, partly because I was led to believe by two teachers who are mothers that it wasn’t that big of a deal. I called her from the car and told her just that. I explained what had transpired and said he’d be fine. Of course I was disproven when she picked him up and saw the wound herself. As a guy, I didn’t think it was that bad. To a mother, I can understand how it might be. So she called the doctor and I met them there a couple hours later.
As we waited in the waiting room, the wound opened up again. His yellow shirt turned brownish when the red spots started falling and spreading. Our regular pediatrician wasn’t available, so we saw another who used words like “plastic surgeon” and “sedation”. He said that the cut, which is under the chin and only visible if you look for it, probably wasn’t worth the trouble for something that wouldn’t be noticeable. For several reasons, we agreed and left with a new Band-Aid, a plastic millipede, some stickers and 3 lollipops. Fortunately my little patient had something to show for the $30 co-pay.
I took him in my car and Mrs. Dude took his brother in hers. As the stressful day wound down, my 3-year-old passed out. But I knew there was something else we had to do. So we stopped by the local Vons grocery store and I let him pick out a Hot Wheels car, which he’d told his mother earlier was what would make him feel better. I wasn’t sure if that was sufficient, so as my guilt over possible neglect set in, we walked a few doors down to Baskin Robbins with his new car to wash everything down with some Cookies and Cream. Though I’m not usually a big fan, I now understand why people say Oreos make them feel better. They certainly did the trick for us that day.