The closest park to our apartment is known as Hippo Park. I have posted about this park before- how we basically move in there in the summer time, how one woman once gave me an earful for "neglecting" M, and how just a week ago, M also managed to jam his head inside a gate there.
Like I have said, my children have spent countless hours at this playground and know it very well. I trust them to maneuver most of the equipment, while still keeping an eye out to make sure I know where they are, that they are not attempting anything dangerous or starting up with other children.
This past shabbos was no exception. It was a beautiful sunny day so we headed out to Hippo Park, accompanied by a family friend, who often comes to play with the kids on Shabbos afternoons. The park was crowded and there were many people there we know, among them a neighbor in our building.
We started talking and he mentioned that although he works as an oncologist now, he had first started his medical career as a pediatrician. We joked around about kids hurting themselves, how you just cannot watch them every second and the crazy things they do.
A few minutes later I excused myself to make sure I knew where all the kids were. A was playing on a climbing structure, Y was watching some other kids play ball and M was right near me, playing with the ball we had brought from home. He threw it and then started running after it. He wasn't really looking where he was going, and I saw him trip over one of the Hippos the playground is named after. I saw him trip and ran over but wasn't fast enough to break his fall. I also watched how he smacked his head against the hippo pretty hard. I knew this wasn't good news. I picked him up right away while he started wailing and his face turned very red. I checked for bleeding and sure enough there was a large gash on top of his left eye, near the eyebrow.
After being a Mom for almost six years now, I am pretty adept at identifying what injuries are minor and just need some kisses and bandaids and which ones require more intervention. I took one look at that cut and knew we were talking stitches here.
At that moment, it was almost like I had a split personality. The rational part of me said:" He is crying and bleeding but he is okay. We'll calm him down, take him home and get in touch with the plastic surgeon we unfortunately know all too well." The emotional part of me said: "He's bleeding profusely, hes screaming. How am I going to get home with the kids? Do I need to go to the ER right away? What do I do about shabbos? What the heck do I do first!" I was also aware of all these people watching me, some wanting to help but not knowing how, others just curious about the spectatcle.
I managed to stay pretty calm. I asked the girl who was with me, to make sure to get the other kids, then grabbed some wipes and tried to clean up the bleeding. M was fighting me, because he was upset and in pain. Thank goodness, someone called over the neighbor/doctor I had just been speaking to. He helped me get M in the stroller and to put some pressure on the cut. He looked at it and told me he definitely needed stitches, which I already knew. I told him of my plan to take him to a plastic surgeon rather than a general emergency room and he agreed that it was a good idea. We got ready to leave and M calmed down in the stroller. Even though everything was under control, I had started to cry, so my neighbor walked us all home. The other kids were grumbling that they had to leave the park early but I explained that this was an emergency.
M fell asleep on the walk home. He had not taken a nap and was exhausted. I let him sleep, knowing that he would have to be up later to go get stitches. Thus the waiting game began. A Jew is permitted to do "work" ie use electricity, the phone, drive, etc on shabbos if there is a medical need, for example if a woman is in labor. But if the issue is not pressing, it is preferable to wait. It was 4 30 and shabbos was ending at 8 30. The bleeding had stopped and although we knew M needed stitches, we also knew he did not need them immediately. My husband promised to come home early from synagogue so we could leave right after shabbos was over.
As soon as I could, I called the plastic surgeon we know. I spoke to his answering service and he called back just a few minutes later. I explained what happened and he told us to meet him at the hospital he works in at 9 30. We got there a bit before then, signed in and waited. M had had a long nap in the afternoon and seemed to have fully recovered. He was in a great mood, climbing all over the pediatric room we were in and exploring, making us worry he would get injured again.
When the doctor came and the actual stitching began, he was obviously not as happy. My husband, a nurse and I all held different parts of his body still so the doctor could work on his cut. At first he screamed and struggled but then he calmed down and let the doctor finish. It was a deep cut, so althogether he got 5 internal stitches that will dissolve plus 10 small external microsuture stitches. Quite impressive. As soon as the stitching was done, he was in great spirits again. We got home around 11 pm and went to bed both physically and emotionally drained.
|M conked out on the couch. Can you see the stitches?|
|M playing with the Hippos in the park on happier days|
If that had been all my friends, as we say on pessach, dayenu. But G'd has a funny sense of humor and had more in store for us this weekend. The kids woke up ridiculously early on Sunday and I got out of bed to put on a DVD for them, so I could sleep another half hour. That is when I discovered that we were locked in. We have a door that seperates the hallway with out bedrooms from the rest of the apartment. My husband likes to close it every night, although obviously noone is outside. Somehow the door had gotten jammed and would not open. I pounded and shook but we were stuck. This had happened one time before, the first night we had slept in our apartment after our move. I had no choice but to call the super and ask him to rescue us. I apologized for waking him up at 7 am on a Sunday but the kids were clamoring that they were hungry. Thankfully, he has a spare key so he let himself into the apartment and was able to open the door with a screwdriver. He was not sure what had caused the malfunction. But we were free again.
What's funny is that my kids are obsessed with Dora. They read the books and watch her videos obsessively. So when the door was stuck, Y had the brilliant idea to do what Dora does when she wants to open a locked door. He said "Abre" (which means open in spanish) several times, but unfortunately it did not work. We still had to wait for the super.
The rest of the morning progressed pretty smoothly. After a short stint at the park (getting right back on the horse as they say) and pizza-lunch, I sat down to read on the couch while the kids were playing in their room. All of a sudden M ran out of the room and said, "Mommy, look at me!" His hand and face were coated in a white substance that looked like flour. I followed him into the kids room and found a whole tin of potato starch poured all over the floor. The children were rolling around and "swimming" in it. It was literally everywhere. They were having a blast. I, on the other hand, was not amused.
This is one of these scenarios where you either cry or laugh. My husband, who I called to the crime scene decided to laugh about it. At this point I had had it and so I screamed and yelled. Not the very best parenting, I must admit, but we all have "those days" and this was definitely one of them.
My husband sent me to calm down while he started to sweep.
It is several hours later. The potato starch is mostly gone. We managed to get out of the house for a bit. M is thankfully feeling great and seems to have completely forgotten about his fall or injury. Everyone is sleeping and I finally have some quiet. I am not sure what the message of all these incidents is. I am grateful that M is okay and am starting to see the humor in being locked into ones home and a room full of potato starch. I guess it is mostly that we never really know what our day is going to look like, and we can only control so much. In all the ways I have worried about my kids injuring themselves in the park- falling off the monkey bars, being hit by a swing, I never really thought about anyone splitting their eyebrow open on a hippo. But I guess you never know. And I could not make this stuff up if I tried!
Thanks for reading my long saga...I hope you at least found in entertaining. Here's to hoping for a quieter week.