My boys, 2 and and just shy of 4, were taking a bath. I had a horrible migraine, I’m 36 weeks pregnant with an ogre, and it was late. I was tired. They soaked my floor and then put the soaked towel in the tub. I was not amused. I drained the tub, tossed towels around them, and asked them to get out. They said, “no,” I controlled the vein in my forehead and pulled gremlin one, but when I went to reach for my almost 4-year-old, he stepped away from me and slipped forward hitting his open giggling mouth on the edge of the tub. I literally felt him slip past my hands. I was angry at him at first, until I saw the blood gushing from his mouth. I entirely forgot that mouth and head injuries bleed like a siv no matter how bad they are. I entirely forgot I should be calm so he’s calm. I entirely forgot to put pressure on the spot. I wiped the blood just enough to see that his poor, perfect little front tooth was broken into a triangular fang and all I could do was wrap my arms around him, cry, and chant, “I’m so sorry” as if by sheer mother-will I could stop the bleeding and magically recreate his tooth. My husband applied pressure and the bleeding stopped. We gave him some children’s Ibuprofen, and he was fine. He’ll hopefully see a dentist this afternoon.
I don’t think it was the blood, or the fact that he was hurt that led me to become irrational—this is certainly not the first time one of my “toddlers” has bloody injured themselves—I think it was that I felt responsible. That in my head between OMG he’s going to have messed up teeth for years and LOOK at all that blood and the nonsensical fear that your child’s shrieks of pain brings, I was thinking…if I’d have been more patient and let him step out on his own this wouldn’t have happened. If I’d have been less tired maybe I’d have reacted faster and caught him. If I was a better mom he wouldn’t have told me no and pulled away from me to get hurt in the first place. Why the hell didn’t I ever buy a non-slip mat? And in this I come to realization that…
blaming yourself is the biggest mistake a parent can make.
It certainly did not stop the bleeding. It certainly did not help him feel better. It certainly will not make his tooth no longer broken. Kids get hurt; accidents happen. The fact that when accidents happen and your child gets hurt you feel that badly, means you are a good parent because those sort of feelings can only be borne of two things—true guilt or true love. Know that it’s rare a parents intentional actions that warrant true guilt cause a child’s injury, leaving only the later answer. I am not so idealistic as to suggest that love conquers all or that all a child needs is love, but it certainly is the foundation of the illusive and nonexistent “right” way to parent. Even in pain, he was excited he may get a silver pirate’s tooth…that’s my boy.