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A Bit of Stair Trouble

Isn’t that a cheery and not at all daunting start to the year? I’ve made it to my new office. I’m sharing a space with a photographer and a winemaker. What could possibly go wrong? This amazing photograph (by Toby Dixon) hangs just outside my cubicle, and I’m going to think of him as my boss. He doesn’t look like the sort of person you’d want to disappoint. I’m pretty sure he would not approve if I spent today tarting up my very stark, white cubicle. Even virtually. Pretty sure it wouldn’t wash if I spent a few hours idea hunting on Pinterest and Instagram. He expects a certain typing speed from me and if I slow down I will have some explaining to do.

This morning was officially the second day I was to leave the house and come here to work on the blog and other self-directed (aka not-yet-existent) writing projects, but I didn’t make it yesterday. I had some very important life admin to attend to yesterday, namely getting my hair and my face sorted out. And Garnet needed a new scooter helmet. He wanted one that was orange and had an elephant on it, but the best I could manage was yellow with monkeys. He took it well, the little trooper. I figure if I am going to abandon him to a babysitter all day, the least I can do is offer adequate head protection. Not that he will have it on when he randomly smashes his head open, because that isn’t how it works. I know all about random head smashing, you see, for I am now the mother of a scarred child.

The week before Christmas we flew to Perth, waking up at 4 am to get our flight. By the time we made it to the apartment we had rented in Fremantle, it was 12 hours later and May Blossom rather desperately needed the toilet. So H dashed inside with her, leaving me in the cool air-conditioned car with a sleeping Garnet. About thirty seconds later H was banging on the window of the flat, trying to raise my attention. There was a look of terror on his face. And there was blood.

He had tripped on an uneven stair riser while carrying May Blossom up the stairs inside, and she had fallen head first onto the metal edge of a step. There was a diamond shaped hole in her forehead that was gushing blood in a truly impressive fashion.

We held a towel to her head and I pressed her screaming face to my chest and ran back to the car with her. Weirdly, my greatest worry at that point was about not strapping her into a car seat, but I couldn’t do that without letting go of her head and there was no way that was going to happen. H drove us the two blocks to the conveniently situated hospital and I leapt out and rushed inside with her.

As I sat at the triage desk trying to remember her name and birthdate and handing over medicare cards and whatnot, I became less worried, because although there was a shitload of blood, she was clearly not concussed or brain damaged. She was yelling, in fury, ‘Why are they not attending to MY INJURY? I have the worst injury IN THE WORLD!’.

I tried explaining the concept of triage, and how actually it was quite reassuring that they weren’t attending to her injury immediately, because that meant there were others worse off than her and in fact hers wasn’t the worst injury in the world, yay and hooray! That went down about as well as you might expect. Four-year-olds with gaping holes in their heads don’t really have a lot of sympathy for other people. And fair enough, really. If there’s ever a time your Pollyanna mother might consider shutting her cakehole about how others have it worse off than you, this might have been it.

So I did stop saying that. Right before I gave her another lesson on how triage works, by fainting on the floor of the emergency room. It was only when H had appeared, carrying a confused and sleepy Garnet, that everything started to go black, and I did manage to hand over my bleeding kid before I crashed to the floor in a slightly dramatic fashion. The nurses all rushed around checking my blood pressure and pulse and trying to make me wake up and get off the floor before I caught something seriously nasty, but I really, really just wanted to keep my eyes shut. Eventually they hauled me onto a gurney and took me off for an ECG, and my maternal instincts kicked back in just enough to feel guilty that I was being bumped ahead of May Blossom in the line. My poor darling girl, I thought. She’ll be so distressed and confused now, on top of being in terrible pain and fear from her own injury.

Was she hell. A good Samaritan from the waiting room had stepped forward with an iPad loaded with Frozen, so all I saw as they wheeled me away were my kids basking in the soothing glow of the screen and giving not one shit what was happening to me. “Mummy fell on the floor looking a bit dead and was taken away on a trolley, you say? How dreadf–‘Beautiful powerful dangerous cold, ice has a magic can’t be controlled.’”

The staff figured out I wasn’t having a heart attack and that maybe it was the sight of my firstborn’s skull that had squicked me out to the point of unconsciousness, and I was allowed back to sit with her while they stitched up her cut. By that time her head had stopped bleeding and she had become quite attached to the cool diamond-shaped hole. She asked if she could keep it like that. We love to spoil that kid, but this time we said no, you must have your open wound closed again.

Every now and again, while assessing her and sewing her up, a doctor would casually ask her how the accident had happened. Let me tell you, it’s really hard not to try to help your kid explain an accident to a doctor. But it’s worth resisting the urge because talking over them makes you look like a guilty child abuser. And no one needs that on the first day of the holidays. Fortunately, May Blossom has a way with words. She knew how upset H was, and that he was blaming himself for the accident, so she started off by telling the first doctor, in a delicate fashion, ‘We had a bit of stair trouble.’ Once the doctor had regained her composure, she got May Blossom to elaborate a bit, which she did in a long-winded fashion with great gusto and many unnecessary details (see Tree, Apples Not Falling Far From). By the time she had told the story to three doctors, she was beginning with, ‘We had a bit of stair trouble ­­–’ (then she would reach over and pat H reassuringly on the leg) ‘– but we’re okay now, aren’t we, Daddy?’

She is a cracker, that kid. I’m awfully glad she doesn’t have hole in her forehead anymore. The holiday improved after that. You’ll be hearing more about it, almost certainly, because my imaginary scary boss wants me to keep typing. But right now I think I will go get him a coffee. That’s a face that could use a coffee. And maybe a small cake.

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