Playing with Fire

9 Jan

We goofed. We fell down on the job. You know, the parenting job. In a quick lapse of judgment we were paying no attention. Only 3 days into a new year and we swiftly removed ourselves from the “Parent of the Year” debate. Yep, we goofed.

It’s ok. We’ve worked through it and moved past it — kind of. It is one of those things that happens to nearly everyone, an accident that forever changes the way you parent your child. It is something that I don’t really want to talk about but I didn’t create this blog just to talk about the celebrations. It’s about the tribulations too. This one just downright hurts. Let me rewind to last Saturday……

Nolan has been growing too fast. Well maybe not too fast, but it’s just too fast. He has super-mastered crawling, mastered stairs (up), and absolutely positively won’t sit still. It just isn’t happening! He pulls himself up onto everything, investigating and exploring. He is constantly moving; a doctor called it “cruising”. That’s what he does, he cruises. He cruises too doggone fast. It was a chilly, snowy Saturday afternoon, and the fireplace was turned on to make the house a little more comfortable. It’s a pretty common fireplace for suburbia: natural gas lit, inserted into a fake and poorly made tile hearth. Can you feel where this is headed?

Nolan was standing at the back door, looking out at the back yard and making his sounds. He had been a lot of places that day — upstairs, in the kitchen, at the window, watching TV, downstairs, playing with toys, upstairs… you get the idea. He wasn’t in one place for long. I was concerned because our digital photo frame wasn’t showing the pictures I wanted it to. The Mrs was in the kitchen cleaning up. And then, I realized that Nolan’s sounds behind me weren’t coming from our back door anymore. They were coming from the…..

My heart raced. My legs raced. I was too late, but yet in a way I was just in time. He hadn’t touched it as much as he wanted to but boy had he touched it enough. I swept him up and hollered a profanity, and Josie knew it too.
“Turn on the cold water!”
We were lost. What do you do??? Nolan had pulled himself up onto the fireplace and placed his little, adventurous left hand onto the glass. That stupidly piping hot glass. In a way I am thankful I turned to find him when I did because as I mentioned before he has been enjoying putting his whole, entire face against the back door glass. What if he had……….I shudder.

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Waiting to see the Doctor…

He was screaming, crying, flailing. He looked at us with the most confused look… “GUYS WHAT JUST HAPPENED!?”. We were doing anything we could think of for a burn, but it is a lot harder to think about anything when it’s your baby that is burned. Right away I could tell that the burn was not 3rd degree and we sighed some relief, but it immediately showed a blister so we knew it still was serious. We scoured the internet searching for any tips from people who had dealt with it before. We felt like we were in a grey area: do we go straight to the hospital? Will they do anything different than we are doing? A cold washcloth was wrapped around his hand, removing that unbearable heat. We gave him Motrin, a pain reliever to calm him down and of course remove the pain. We decided to wait. We looked at each other blankly. We were sick. I mean, how can I even describe it. I cried. I am not afraid to say that. It was later that night, but I cried…. The emotions of the situation were more than I could handle. We had really goofed.

After the initial shock wore off, Nolan did not cry. That is one thing that is remarkable about this situation, his toughness. He makes me so proud, how tough he is. He was the toughest little boy in that NICU for 6 weeks, he has always been tough when he falls down or bonks his head. And that afternoon he didn’t hardly even whimper. Sure he tried to crawl once and placed his weight on that hand (wrapped in gauze and triple antibiotic ointment), and that didn’t feel too pleasant at all. But he didn’t really cry. In fact by supper that night he was banging the hand around, reaching for things, acting like his typical self. It was The Mrs and I who weren’t too typical. That night we didn’t hardly sleep at all. I don’t feel a need to explain that. I felt physically sick, like I was going to vomit, several times. Josie kept “hearing” him and going to check on him, only to find him sound asleep.

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Getting all bandaged up!

The next morning we took off the bandages, and the palm blister wasn’t looking any better. Oh, and it was HUGE. We called some people with medical backgrounds, picking their brain for any ideas… but I think we both knew what we needed to do. We took Nolan to the Children’s Hospital that Sunday morning, admittedly more for our peace of mind than anything else. The nurses and doctors were awesome, thoughtful, and careful. They were not “Oh-my-gosh-you-let-him-do-what!?” condescending. That was relieving. They looked at the blisters, unroofed them (apparently medical speak for poking them to drain them), and re-bandaged them. Once again I have to talk about Nolan and his strength. When the doctor stuck his big blister 8 times with a needle and then pushed on it to drain out half of it’s amassed fluids… Nolan didn’t so much as fidget. I don’t even need to say it but he didn’t cry. I winced, like a baby. He sure didn’t, like a man. What a stud. Walking out of there felt a million times better than walking in. At the very least we received professional help, and some validation that we were going in the right direction.

So now we are in a healing process, and it’s not just all Nolan’s hand. We are lucky, Lord are we lucky. What could’ve been massive 3rd degree burns across his body ended up being localized to his hand. The outside of his palm got the worst of it, but his thumb and middle finger have smaller blisters as well. We’re headed to the Children’s Hospital Burn clinic in the morning to make sure that the blisters are healing correctly, but all in all it looks like we have emerged relatively unscathed. It will probably take weeks for the burns to completely heal or at least that is what I am preparing for. Knowing Nolan and everything he has been through, it could be and probably will be much quicker. He has already figured out he can crawl on his forearm/elbow, and he is back to being everywhere. He pulls himself up, goes up the stairs, and… you know, he cruises. But not by that fireplace, no way. We’ll likely never use that thing again.

In a way, it was time to learn a hard lesson. These things happen to everyone, and you learn to accept that it doesn’t make you a bad parent. But it definitely feels like it. Kids get hurt, they get stitches, they break bones. Thankfully they are resilient and 90% of the time there is nothing you could have done to save them. Perhaps that is why this weighs so hard on us: we could have easily left the fireplace off. I could have, I should have not been messing with that stupid photo frame. At the end of the day it is just something you go through and deal with. We could not go through it again and be even happier, please and thank you.

Nolan? Shoot he’s fine. Us? We are too… We just goofed.

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Back to Cruisin’

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