Monday was the day Stella and Hamish were roughhousing in a usual way in Bryan's and my bedroom while I clacked contentedly on my laptop down the hall in my office. Before long, she started wailing and staggering toward me. Nothing out of the ordinary. I said, "Come here, baby, what happened, did Hamish hurt you?" Not to be unfair to my son, but this is how it usually goes.
So I swept my lovey-dovey into my arms and walked toward my bed, laid us down and then got a glimpse of her face, where blood was now pouring. Above her left eye, bisecting her eyebrow was a gash as deep as a Pop-Tart is thick, and twice as long. Gaping. Two dark drops bloomed on my pristine white pillow case (yes, I'm that shallow even in times of crisis) and I was off and running, shouting "Hamish!" in a panic-strangled voice. I'd glimpsed him running to hide among the vacuum cleaners in the crawl space cabinet under the eaves opposite my bed.
Down in the kitchen on the floor with Stella on my lap, I swiped at her head with wet paper towels to no avail. The blood kept coming while she screamed and batted my hand away. I grabbed the phone and dialed Bryan's cell. He'd left for work about fifteen minutes earlier. I begged him to turn around and come home, we have to go to the hospital, Stella's been cut, please come home, pleasepleaseplease. I called my mom, told her to meet us at the E.R.
When Hamish finally came downstairs I had him look at his sister's face, to make him aware of what he'd accidentally done. I stressed that I knew he didn't mean to and that I wasn't angry at him, and felt bad that he'd been the cause of her injury, but I also wanted him to know that his actions have reactions and any time I can teach him to be accountable is valuable, even if it means seeing that a playful shove can lead to a deep gash on his sister's face. His response was typical for his age, at least I like to tell myself it was: he giggled and hopped up and down, flapping his wrists like a dandy fairy. I restrained myself from hurling him across the room.
Five stitches later, Bryan and I have been inducted into a whole 'nother level of parenthood. It makes us stronger, cloaks us in great swaths of character to have held our daughter down in the emergency room, while she lay swaddled taut in a sheet like a Russian orphan, screaming as she was sewn shut until her face turned purple and her eyes bulged.
But she got over it. And even though it's typical kid behavior, it still awes me. The whole victimlessness of it all. Meanwhile I tossed and turned the first couple nights, the image of that wound, so deep, the layers of skin so thick you wouldn't have been able to tear them with your teeth, and hugged myself for comfort. Two mornings later, around five A.M., Hamish screamed, "Mommy! Mommy!" and I went running to him. "I had a dream about the doctor's," he said and I crawled into bed with him, reassuring him that everyone is safe and that he's okay. We fell back asleep. I felt vindicated, for Stella, and reassured that the gravity of the incident really did reach my son. I almost hate myself for not trusting him to have a compassionate conscience. We'll see how he reacts when the stitches come out.
Changing the subject, Hamish has been flexing his creative eye with some art photography. Here are a few of my favorites.