How A Scary Incident Helped Me Become a Better Parent
Childhood injuries are inevitable, but they don’t have to ruin us
I’ll never forget my first look at the wound. A deep gash on our seven-year-old’s right leg. My first thought was that it went down to the bone. Blood started flowing out as we all scrambled to determine the next move. Our younger son began crying hysterically, so I immediately picked him up and turned away from the scene. My wife, meanwhile, consoled big brother and got him laying down on the ground with his leg elevated.
The injury happened on an escalator. We were all frantic and scared and asked the nearest airport employee to call for help. It felt like forever before someone arrived, but the paramedics eventually showed up and they were wonderful. After bandaging him up and reassuring us, they told us to go to the nearest urgent care. A few hours and a few stitches later, he was smiling and had started to feel much better.
The memory, of course, will last forever. The terror of the moment. The look of excruciating pain on my son’s face. The struggle of trying to keep our other son away and wanting to protect the injured one at the same time. You can’t prepare for this type of incident, but it served as a painful reminder that our lives are always an instant away from being derailed. The shock hits you like a freight train. We shift into fight-or-flight mode because nothing is more important than protecting our children at all costs. This is why we make sure they wear a helmet on the bike, a seat belt in the car, a life jacket at the lake. We strive to keep them safe, but the hard truth is that we can’t protect them from everything.
As we started winding down for bed, my son told me that he still felt scared even though it had already happened. I suppose this is how we process traumatic events as human beings. It’s never easy to move forward for the parent or the child. We just have to remind ourselves that our kids will continue to fail, make mistakes, get injuries and face obstacles beyond our control. My wife and I were so proud of him for fighting through the adversity that day and bouncing back quickly. Just hours later, as we watched him and his younger brother laughing and running around the backyard, we felt a wave of relief and…