Wednesday, December 22, 2010

That’s Why They Call the Dad

Today I got the call that all daycare mothers dread: I got the your-child-is-sick/hurt call. Usually I avoid these calls. Daycare is located on site at Husband’s work, so they always call him first. And so far, that’s been a pretty great arrangement. I’m good with sick kids, but I am terrible with the blood/injury stuff. I freak out. I ALWAYS think the injury is the end of the world and requires medical attention. I ALWAYS jump to the worst case scenario. Of course the worst case scenario is rarely the actual scenario, but I lose my ability to think on my feet and reason when my kid is sick or hurt. Plus, the site of my children’s blood causes me to feel a little lightheaded.

But Husband, he is a rock star when it comes to bleeding kids. He can calm the kids down and assess the damage with a cool, calculating eye. In the midst of kid screaming chaos he can make the right call about whether something needs medical attention or not. And generally, he can get everyone back on their merry way. He’s so good at what he does that sometimes he goes back to work and forgets to tell me about it at all.

But today, I was the only parent to call. Husband is on vacation from work this week, and dropped the kids off at daycare so that he could take care of a few projects at home without a bunch of little hands “helping” him. Plus, this is the week that daycare makes those cute homemade Christmas presents for mommy and daddy and I really wanted whatever it was our kids would be making. So, they went to school and daddy went home to work.

But that meant at 1 p.m. today, I got the call from KJ’s teacher. She starts by apologizing for calling me at work, which makes me immediately think KJ has spiked a fever. After all, if KJ were hurt, there would be no need to apologize, right? Every parent would want to know if their kid was hurt, so there wouldn’t be a need to apologize. Fevers are much less threatening. So I start calculating how much time I might have to get to the daycare and get him out before the one hour time limit on sick kids expires. And then I hear her say “blood.” It sinks into me that KJ is hurt, not sick. So much worse.

We’ve had an interesting run with daycare phone calls regarding hurt kids. I’m pretty sure they call Husband every time one of the kids gets injured at school and depending on the severity, they either handle it or he goes there to determine what needs to be done. It’s understandable that daycare only calls one parent. And it’s understandable that they call the on site parent. But since Husband and I don’t communicate during the day, it has caused problems from time to time when I call, say, to check on whether Sweet Pea is eating at school and they mention in passing that they gave her chest compressions when she stopped breathing after her fall today (imagine that freak out).

Today was nowhere near that bad. KJ’s teacher calmly told me that KJ fell climbing up a piece of playground equipment. She honestly told me that none of the teachers saw it, and that KJ did not bring it to their attention. She said that he simply went on playing until one of the teachers noticed blood pouring from his chin. When the teachers realized KJ was hurt, they whisked him away from the playground like the biohazard that he was, and took him to the nurse to determine the extent of the damage.

But then we hit a snag. The nurse wasn’t sure if KJ needed stitches. It wasn’t that KJ wouldn’t let them look at the cut. To the contrary, he was a model patient – he didn’t cry at any point at all. But the cut was in a difficult place, and it was kind hard to tell, so they wanted Husband or I to come look at it to see if we wanted to take him to get stitches.

I called husband and immediately sent him to daycare to pick up the kids. We live a long way from daycare, so I spent about an hour nibbling my nails and worrying about what kind of condition KJ’s chin might be in. I couldn’t work at all during that hour. All I could think about was what his face was going to look like and how were we – people without any medical training (umm, and with me being approximately 40 miles away) – going to determine whether KJ needed stitches if a nurse could not.

When Husband got to daycare and finally got a look at KJ’s chin he called me. “It’s not too bad,” he said. “I’m taking them home.” Despite not being able to see KJ’s actual injury, I immediately second guessed Husband’s decision. After all, if the nurse couldn’t tell if KJ needed stitches, how was Husband making such a quick decision? I asked a million questions about the cut. The size, the depth, the shape, the amount of blood. I asked about the thing he hit his chin on. And Husband answered, somewhat vaguely but probably to the best of his ability. In the end, I begged Husband to stop by the pediatrician on the way home. Just to get their opinion. I told him to tell them his crazy wife made him go. But he stood firm. He did not want to drive the (literally) two miles out of his way for a second opinion. He did not think KJ needed any more medical attention and he was going home. And I had to relent. I was stuck at work, he had to make this parenting decision.

It was a terrible feeling not having any control over a health decision for your kid. I felt like Husband wasn’t taking the cut seriously, and basing his medical opinion on the inconvenience of lugging two kids into the pediatrician’s office. So, I did what any good mom would do. I sent my mom to look at the cut.

Nothing can capture the relief I felt when my mom called me and told me she too, thought KJ wouldn’t need stitches. The cut was a lot larger than Husband had represented to me on the phone, but it wasn’t gaping or bleeding or any of those terrible things that require medical attention. Husband had made the right call.

When I came home from work that night I apologized to Husband for second guessing him. He had acted with KJ in mind, and I should have known he would do the right thing. Husband took it well, and actually said (and I think meant) that it was nice to have my mom as a second opinion. And he said he knew how upset I must have been, imagining the worst without being able to do anything about it. As he put his arms around me to give me a comforting hug, Husband very quietly said, “That’s why they call the dad.”


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