… from the bungalow

12 days that amaze, Day 6: Parental biology


This is the sixth of 12 “amazing” installments of “12 days that amaze.” I am pushing myself to write 12 posts about things that amaze me leading up to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser in Chicago that Karin, Deb and I are participating in. In doing so, I must also be open to the everyday amazing things that happen around me.

I know it’s late, but we had an eventful day.

This afternoon, we decided to go to Kensington Metro Park to take a walk, visit the nature center, and spend a little time at the playground there. When we arrived, we ate the lunches we brought, then took off on the shorter trail since the Little Professor is still recovering from his broken leg. (We brought his wheel chair, but it’s not exactly easy pushing him through a dirt path.)

Yes, we let them dress themselves. Yes, those are rain boots.

We had a nice walk, even if we did have to repeatedly remind the small ones to use level 1 or 2 voices only. I stooped to snap a shot of this moss. I don’t know why, but I love moss.

Moss: full of texture-y goodness

We made it to the playground; although, it took what seemed like an hour to walk from the van with the Little Professor treading oh, so carefully on his bum leg. Here he is swinging.

Swing, baby, swing!

I swung for a few minutes, too, and the other boys had fun playing tag with a kid they met there. Everything was going great, and we figured they’d all sleep deeply tonight. We were wrapping things up, and our middle child wanted to show us one last thing: how he could walk across the chain walk without holding the rails. Great, show us how awesome you are!

Just one last time...

He made it across toward me with no problem, and we were ready to call it a day. Then he decided he’d turn around to go back to the other side, and for an instant, I had that feeling. Do you know that feeling? Where you think, “This is where someone gets hurt. Just one more time, they say.” And just as quick as I had the thought, I brushed it off as irrational parental worrying.

And wouldn’t you know it, with one step to go, his foot slipped between the chains and down he went–forehead first into the edge of that metal platform you see there. I dropped my camera on the ground and grabbed him out of there, and there it was: an oval-shaped bubble on his forehead. Instant swelling. The first thing he said was, “What happened?!” as he was crying.

I started freaking out.

He’s disoriented. He’ll have a concussion. What do I do? Do I run him to the car that seems to be a quarter mile away or call 911 first? My phone! Where’s my goddamn phone?!

Karin was trying to tell me to calm down as I was holding the screaming fruit of my loin in my arms, his forehead swelling right before my eyes. Some strangers nearby gave us a near-melted ice pack and their cell phone to use. I called 911, but the dispatcher seemed to have no idea what I was talking about as I tried to describe the Metro Park. He suggested I call the park’s office. Fine, whatever. I called the office and they asked if we needed an ambulance, she went to put me on hold, and the call disconnected. Shit!

Meanwhile, Karin is carrying my son back to the van and I’m trying to walk with the Little Professor at a turtle’s pace while making this phone call. I gave the guy back his phone, thanked him, then picked up LP and started running as best as I could while carrying a 70-pound kid.

As I ran toward my injured son, carrying my recovering son, during those couple of (few? several?) minutes, I started to cry, but there was no time. How could I have let this happen? Why did the Little Professor have to be so feeble right now, today? Will he need an X-ray? A CAT scan? Where’s the nearest hospital? Should I take him to an urgent care center? Will I make it to the van without collapsing? Omigod, please let him be alright.

As I caught up to the rest of the family, I found that Karin had already been asking him if he knew what day it was and some other questions to test his orientation while checking his eyes for dilation/constriction. He seemed lucid and was calming down. Thank goodness. I was still in a bit of a panic mode, though, playing it over and over in my mind.

We found an urgent care center and had him checked out. By then, I had calmed down and knew he’d be alright. The doctor was great and reassured me that he doesn’t seem to have a concussion, but that I should wake him up every couple of hours tonight to check his orientation to time and space. I’m still blaming myself, but that’s what brings me to today’s amazing thing:

The biology of being a parent.

Karin was trying to tell me that it doesn’t help my son to be freaked out, and I get that, but there’s purpose to that panic mode. We act. We make quick decisions. Thinking back on it now, I realize it must have only been about 10 minutes or less from the time he hit his head until the time we were in the van and headed toward the urgent care center, but it feels like it should have been an hour. Our bodies kick into overdrive with enzymes and adrenaline, making us momentarily move at a pace that would kill us if it never shut off.


Here’s a picture of his lump:

It’s time for me to wake him up just enough to check his responses. Rationally, I’m sure he’ll be fine, but I’m not taking any chances.


Author: Chris

Introspection to a fault. College administrator, parent, soapmaker.

18 thoughts on “12 days that amaze, Day 6: Parental biology

  1. I absolutely know that “oh, no, THIS is where it happens” feeling. I’m sorry that it did happen, but glad everything looks fine at this point. Fingers crossed.

    • Thanks, Deb. I had to ask him four or five times and physically get him out of bed for him to tell me his name. I’m still worried about him. It’s stressful.

  2. Try to remember you’re waking him out of his deep sleep zones…kids are usually pretty tough….

    • Right. He was disoriented because I was waking him out of deep sleep. After my third time waking him up, I relaxed enough to let him sleep the rest of the night.

  3. Oh, Chris! I JUST had a similar thing happen to Maycee (although different set of circumstances). First of all, praying for your son and you all-he’s going to be fine, I know it in my heart. Second, to finish my comment-two weeks ago Maycee fell off of her horse for the first time, and just prior to the accident, I had the fleeting thought that maybe I shouldn’t ride with her this particular day. Our instructor, K’s, 4-year-old didn’t have an adult to watch her while K was giving lessons. I only ride with Maycee for fun, I don’t actually receive instruction on those days, so I was available to watch K’s little girl. I thought about mentioning it to K, but I didn’t, and within 20 minutes, her daughter made a loud noise that scared Maycee’s horse, it spooked, jerking its rear, and off she went, 4 feet down. I had to calmly get off of my horse, lead it over to where she was and proceed to let the instructor handle calming her down-that’s protocol. It was the worst feeling ever, and Maycee’s first “big” accident as a young child. Her elbow swelled up a bit and had a large gash (just from sand), but her head was okay (thanks to a helmet) and everything else, too. I feel your pain, and I agree with the amazement of what we can accomplish when parent adrenaline kicks in, but I don’t like experiencing it! 🙂 Take care tonight!

  4. My heart sunk when you had that moment, before he fell. That moment that parents everywhere know. I’m glad he’s okay. It will take you longer to feel better!

    • I think you’re right about that! He seems fine this morning, and I’m still re-living it in my mind. I was able to relax a bit after I woke him up for the third time at 3:45. :/

  5. When # 1 was 2 and I was still pregnant with # 2, we were on a trip to SC to visit my dad and he fell and hit his head on the bottom of the car! He got a DENT in his forehead (can you imagine that?) By the time it was a knot, he had two black eyes! So I know how scared you felt, every possible worst case scenario went through my head!

  6. I know exactly what you’re talking about! I worked in the medical field for 5+ years and could handle seeing all kinds of horrible things that have happened to people, but if my daughter gets even just a little cut with blood in it, I freak out! It sucks that we can’t just sprout wings and fly over to our kids to save them. I WANT to be a superhero sooo bad!

    I also love moss, so I really liked your photograph. And I often go hiking in rain boots for fun, even if it hasn’t rained in eons 🙂 Kiss S on the head for me!

    • Will do, Amanda! And you know what? We can be superheroes to our kids, kinda. Not in the sprouting wings and rushing to their aid before they even have a chance to get hurt kind of way, but we can be super and we can be their heroes. Wouldn’t you agree?

  7. Reminds me of when I was pregnant with Colleen and John fell off of a rolling toy at a church convention. He split his head on the door jamb. I had to rush him to the doctor to have him stitched up. These incidents remind us of how fragile life is and what a gift a child is!

    • Yikes, that must have been horrifying. You’re so right about it being a reminder. It’s a hard one to take, but it does make me want to take more care.

  8. Oh, gosh, my heart was in my throat just reading this! You certainly can’t blame yourself and it sounds like you did everything you should have. I agree the body’s natural response keeps us from totally melting down while allowing us to do things we would never normally be able to do! So glad your son is okay 🙂

    • Thanks, Jules! I wish I could say there will never be a “next time,” but as I’m sure there will be, I hope next time to keep a little more calm.

  9. I am very glad your little man is ok. Bumps on the head are not fun. I think as parent we worry and forget how resilient kids are. I could share some crazy stories… our middle boy put his fingers in a steel box fan at 18 months (8 stitches and no fingers lost). He’s also the one who was launched off of a 4 wheeler that had crashed, he spun in a circle in the air and landed on his back. I think that was the most terrifying because I saw it all happen in slow motion. Staying calm is most important. Kids take their cues from us. I’m sure next time, you will be great!!

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