Little bitty kids have little bitty problems. It stands to reason that the bigger a kid gets the bigger their problems get.
The cooties a kid catches in elementary school become broken hearts. The tricycle wrecks become fender benders. The lunches eaten at the silent table in the cafeteria become detention if you don’t watch your smart mouth.
Em was fearless as a little girl. She would walk across the back of the couch and race her trike as fast as its teeny wheels would go. There were scrapes and bumps and bruises along the way. But she was never one to cry for terribly long. Her big blue eyes were steely when she was hurt. She was a tough little kid.
She still is.
I rounded the corner of the hallway near the Nurse’s office in school and my heart sank when I heard her crying. Minutes earlier MQD had called and said “Didn’t you see the missed call? Em is hurt. They want you to come and get her. She hit her head on the playground.” I started to fire questions at him and stopped myself. I knew better. He had told me everything he knew.
We live close to the elementary school. It had been fourteen minutes since my missed call. Two minutes to park and walk inside. My baby girl had been crying for sixteen minutes.
I was expecting them to say “It’s protocol that we call a parent when there has been a head injury, we need you to sign this form.” I’d be back at school with Lucy in tow in less than an hour for the Holiday Party.
But she was crying.
I saw her and I dropped to my knees and wiped her hair from her face. She put her arms around my neck like a child of preschool age. I stood and she clung to me, her long legs wrapping around me like they did when she was young. I was lucky that a friend had popped by when I got the call that I needed to go to school. I had run out the door without Lucy. So, for the first time in a long time my big girl was my baby and it was just the two of us. With her head on my shoulder she wept.
A lot of bandaids and ice packs and tears later we were home. A little bit of nausea later we were at the pediatrician. And not long after that we were at the Emergency Room. Somewhere between the doctor’s office and the triage room of the hospital my sleepy, weepy, nauseous big girl turned back in to the stone cold little bruiser she had been as a little, bitty girl.
She hadn’t said much of anything to me in hours. Suddenly she was chatting away to the nurse and the doctor at the ER. She was tired. Rattled. But she was smiling. She looked from left to right, she followed the doc’s finger. She walked up and down the hall and might have even rolled her eyes when they asked her what year it was.
We aren’t out of the woods. I will continue to watch her for worrisome signs. Incidentally if you have never monitored a child for “strange behavior,” it is rather maddening. Small people are weird. They do strange things.
Kids get bigger and their thumps and bumps get bigger, too. I knew this before today. Intellectually, anyway. I can’t yet say I am grateful for the object lesson, Universe. Fingers crossed for an uneventful tomorrow.