(Editor’s Note: Due to early deadlines this week, I dusted off an archive from Christmas week 2009 for republication.)
A morning spent in the emergency room will surely make this a Christmas I will never forget.
My oldest son, Beckett, is a “bruiser.” I find him hilarious, particularly during meals of late when he consistently points to the high-chair tray and says “down, down, down,” meaning he wants the food put down in front of him now or at least at a quicker clip. He continued to live up to his nickname on Christmas Day when a mishap involving a box, containing a Diego toilet, and a wall led us to the ER.
Christmas morning was a wonderful time, and, although Beckett is just 19 months old, he seemed to be enthralled with what transpired in the house from the time he went to bed on Christmas Eve to the next morning. The transformation was not lost on him. Carson, the 7-week-old, on the other hand, slept through all the excitement nearby.
Pam had Christmas morning all planned out in her head. The idea was to provide a wonderland of sorts for our unsuspecting toddler. Although he does not get the entire Santa Claus and Christmas thing yet, we figured we could still have some fun with him this year.
The plan was to simply let Beckett walk into the Christmas tree room like it was any other morning and capture his reaction on video. It was priceless. He was obviously overwhelmed by it all, repeating in his cute kid voice “wow” and “whoa,” while looking all around the room and clapping his hands in excitement.
After he rummaged through some of the bigger toys and some of his new and cherished board books, we decided to open some gifts ourselves. There we were enjoying the excitement of Christmas morning when we spotted Beckett standing atop the box, which was about eight inches off the floor. This was nothing new and situations like this play out repeatedly around our house.
However, as luck would have it, just before I could get to him to bring him off the box, he clumsily fell backwards, hitting the wall with his head.
The only unusual aspect of this tumble was the fact he hit the corner of the wall. It was a direct hit, splitting open his head with a sizable gash. I was initially unaware how serious it was because he quickly stopped crying. A few minutes later, we were on our way to AGH when we noticed blood in his hair.
As you may recall, this marked the second ER visit for Beckett in the last two months. That initial stop was a completely different experience from the one on Christmas. The previous encounter was highly concerning because he was vomiting and suffering from extreme dehydration. We were worried and troubled over his welfare at the time.
The Christmas day visit was not quite as disturbing. Perhaps it was Beckett’s silly demeanor in the hospital or maybe just the fact it was the second experience.
There was not as much stress this time because we knew this was just a minor injury, one that we would later discover needed only two stitches to heal. Some sizable gash, huh?
It’s simple after a few days to make light of the situation, but there were certainly some uncomfortable moments at the time. It tore me up on that first ER visit to watch Beckett be physically restrained to have some tests run as well as to have an IV put in. This second experience was not any easier when it came to that. It will always be tortuous to witness my kid be manhandled by strangers, even if it’s for his own good. It’s extremely difficult to watch and I do not see myself ever being able to handle that well.
In this latest round in the ER, my son had to be placed face first on
the bed because the cut was on the back of his head. While a burly male nurse pinned him down, the physician stitched him up. Beckett, of course, wailed the entire time, while Pam sang a rendition of “Wheels on the Bus” to try and distract him. Meanwhile, I watched the procedure intently to fight off those silly fatherhood emotions.
Pam and I later wondered if his crying fit was a result of him being restrained or actually the pain, which was supposed to be addressed by a topical anesthetic. I think most of his agitation was because he was immobilized despite his objections.
The entire ER experience lasted less than two hours, and it was a small blip on a busy Christmas day.
In reflecting on the incident, what made the situation so easy to handle, on what could have been a bear of a day, was Beckett’s resilience. I often marvel at kids’ short attention spans and their ability to move past things. As quickly as they get worked up over something, they are soon relaxed, distracted and interested in something else. They have an uncanny ability to bounce back from something troubling at the time.
As quickly as this incident happened, my kid was over it. He had no problem putting the incident behind him. In fact, he went straight for that Diego box when we walked in the door. That box was soon out of the house.
(The writer is the publisher and editor of The Dispatch. He and his wife, Pamela, are proud parents of two boys. This weekly column examines their transition into parenthood and all that goes along with it. E-mail any thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.)