On Memorial Day I drove with Tara and Theory to the dog park. Tara took the dogs while I put Theory in the Bugaboo and headed to the lake to look at the ducks and play on the swings. A few minutes into our walk, we headed down a walkway and Theory suddenly flew off the stroller – seat attached, and face planted.
Heart pounding I grabbed her, still strapped to the seat. Within seconds she was hollering and crying. I had her out of the street – holding her to me. Her mouth was bloody so I grabbed a wipe and did a quick check to see how serious it was. I could see her lip bleeding and a cut on her chin but could not see clearly in her mouth. I held her tight and repeated over and over that she was going to be okay.
I left the stroller and ran back to the car trying to stay calm, and soothe Theory and not make her feel any panic.
I called to Tara to get the dogs. At the car, Theory had begun to calm a bit. Tara and I had a brief discussion as to weather we needed to head to the ER or go home. We decided to go home. We drove down the street and grabbed the stroller. Tara managed to squeeze between the carseats and talked to Theory in a soothing voice.
We got home and I carried her up the stairs. We cleaned her up and checked her again, stripping her down to just be sure. After some ibuprofen and magical bandaids, the security of being home enabled us to all take a deep breath.
Theory’s lip was swollen and she had a cut on the chin, a few scratches. We watched a few minutes of Lion King and she fell asleep.
It was the first time Theory has gotten hurt beyond a stubbed toe or a splinter. In fact, I had just thought about how we had done two years and had avoided any emergency with her – and how thankful I was.
I felt horrible. I had not been careful enough to make sure the seat had locked into the stroller. Seeing her cry and the blood on her chin created a pit in my stomach. It just makes me realize how much she and Win depend on us, trust us to know and do what is right.
Two days later Tara took her to the doctor for something unrelated. Her eye was a bit swollen from a stye but we wanted to be sure that it wasnt somthing from the fall. Tara prepped her with what to expect. Everything was fine and the Dr said we made the right decision not to go to the ER. Theory was a trooper during the exam and waited patiently to get her lollipop. The ouchies have receded in to the past. I know that bumps and bruises and even trips to the ER are in my future. But I am not looking forward to it.
Theory has since remarked a couple of times about how ouchies heal. Yesterday I caught my thumb in a window and hollered. Theory came to comfort me and said “It will be alright.” So yes, an important lesson learned.
It made me think about Gever Tully’s TED talk, “5 dangerous things you should let your kids do.” Play with fire. Own a pocketknife.
I try hard to create a margin of safety that allows Theory freedom while also making her safety the top priority. But it is hard as a parent to separate the real risk of injury and the calculated benefit to the emotional growth of your child, from the strong emotional reactions that come from not wanting your child to hurt.
This morning we went to the dog park and Theory was climbing a small tree with my help. With each step I have to balance the real chance of injury and the likelihood of a scrape.