Rugrats, by their very nature, get under your feet. In fact, they get everywhere. I was washing my hands in the downstairs toilet the other morning after a particularly arduous nappy change and my baby daughter Scarlett was crawling around on the floor, trying her best to get into the toilet bowl and unfurl the bog roll – generally causing me a mild level of irritation. Anyway, I picked her up and sat her outside the door as a dried my hands.
“I’m sorry but you have to keep out of the toilet darling, the floor is dirty.” I told her with a smile as I slowly closed the door behind me, only to hear her let out a scream. I looked down and realised her little finger was stuck in the door, between the hinge and the jamb, and that I had just crushed it. I quickly opened the door again and when I saw her concertinaed purple finger, a hot/cold rush of adrenalin surged through my body; I’ve never known panic like it.
“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” I repeated endlessly, as my mind scrambled around in the early morning fug, trying formulate to a relevant course of action. I looked again at the finger, it wasn’t pointing in the right way at all, and there was a small seam of blood running down the inside of it. I’d only severed my daughter’s finger hadn’t I? What the hell was I going to do? WHAT DO I DO?
I started chanting my new mantra again, which caused my eldest daughter to scream continuously, just to add to all the fun. First things first; Ibuprofen! Relieve the pain and take down the swelling. I scooped her up and ran into the kitchen, frantically measuring out a 5ml dose into a shaking teaspoon. “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” I continued, maybe it was calming me down. I had a feeling I should go to A&E immediately but I thought I’d call my GP surgery, just in case they recommended something else., something quicker. Luckily they picked up in one ring but unfortunately they were unable to give me any advice except to go straight to my local hospital.
Miraculously, Scarlett had stopped crying, which helped to calm Martha and I down, although I did get paranoid that this was a precursor to her passing out or going floppy – and you never want your kids to go floppy. The woman next door worked from home, so I texted her and asked if she could drive us to the hospital. Then I ordered a black cab as backup, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. The door bell rang and I tried to sound as blasé as possible in front of my neighbour, who kindly said that this type of thing happens all the time with her two children and that she was sure it wasn’t too serious, especially if she wasn’t crying. We got into her car but she only had booster seats and the logistics involved in me taking two car seats with me to A&E just ended up confusing the hell out of me – I decided I’d just stick with the black cab, which, as a licensed vehicle, doesn’t need to have car seats fitted. I’d just wheel in the buggy and take Scarlett in the harness.
I arrived at A&E and felt that duality of slight disgust and admiration. Disgusted at the filth, the queues, the great unwashed and the rude staff, admiration that we are lucky enough to have a free health service in this country. I was there for about two hours before a doctor and consultant checked Scarlett’s finger and were happy that it was just soft tissue damage (apparently the bones of the hand are so small and pliable at her age that they would be highly unlikely to break).
But here’s the most important part of the story, and the main takeaway for any fathers out there in a similar position: I only told my wife what had happened later that afternoon, well after we’d come home and lunch had been eaten. And judging by her reaction, I’m so glad I did. Meetings would have been cancelled, stress levels tripled, accusations would have flown. Basically, I was able to mention our trip to A&E as casually as a visit to a music and movement class. Phew! In short, you’re going to have to make several trips to hospital with your kids, try to keep calm, no matter how weak at the knees you feel, no matter if there’s blood. AND DON’T TELL THE WIFE!