Shell Shocked Parents…And The Face Of A Child’s Resilience

One of the exhibits at our local Children’s Museum is a life-size ant hill. The kids love the maze of tunnels. Our daughter is just 2, so my husband and I climbed in with them. We were not as fond of the humid, carpeted tunnels and the smell of sweaty socks as they were – we went in only for giggles.

This time, the fun was short-lived. Our daughter crawled in a second level tunnel and blindly moved forward. I heard my husband shouting for her to stop. Below her, I moved towards them hoping to catch her. Not fast enough.

THUD.

Any parent knows that particular sound – the unmistakable sound of a head face hitting something hollow. She crawled straight over a hole and fell, face-first so her nose and mouth took the brunt of the impact. Cradling her as we crawled out into the light, we surveyed the damage.

A face full of bright red blood.

It. Was. E-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.

First, my husband and I froze, our faces mirroring looks of horror and concern. Then suddenly, adrenaline kicked in and I shoved her into my husband’s arms and ran for something…anything…to soak up the blood. Her screams echoed as amazingly helpful and sympathetic staff began arriving to assist us.

I’m not gonna lie – the afore-mentioned adrenaline could easily be interpeted as panic. My thoughts raced down all kinds of rabbit holes…loss of teeth, broken nose, bit tongue, concussion and worse.  Grabbing paper towels and the diaper bag while replaying the thud and the blood in my mind…I wondered if we needed to go the ER. I prayed we wouldn’t.

Running back, I found my poor (amazing) husband sitting, trying to console her and keep the blood off of the museum bench. As we soaked it up from our writhing and screaming child, we made eye contact.

No words required.

Fear. Love. Concern. Prayers. Hope…all at once.

It took maybe 10 minutes to slow the bleeding down to a trickle. It felt like HOURS. We assessed the damage and were amazed there was no external cut. A tongue bite that hardly bled, and a record-setting bloody nose.

As we tried to apply an ice pack provided by the staff, she struggled to get up, screaming to get down. Why? Not because it was cold. Not because it hurt. No, she was ready to play.

Seriously?

My husband and I were ready to go home.

We moved to the hallway and and gave the kids a snack while we continued to try to get her nose to stop bleeding. By now, our main concern was whether she had broken her nose.

Her main concern was what she could play with next.

When the bleeding finally stopped, we changed her clothes, washed up, and decided to try one of the quieter exhibits. My husband and I spent the rest of the time trying to make sure our over-ambitious two-year old didn’t fall on her face again. Or…rather we succumbed to overprotective instincts and annoyed her. Helicopter parenting at it’s finest worst.

To our surprise, we finished the rest of the museum and left with two tired, happy kids. The only evidence of what is now known as the ‘childrens museum incident’ was a bruise on the bridge of her nose. How so much could come out of someone so little and leave only a tiny bruise…I still cannot understand but am grateful for it.

I was amazed by how quickly she moved on from injury. As parents, injuries seem to linger in our minds long after our children move on. Our wandering minds remind us of what ‘could have happened’. But she refused to let even the most epic of bloody noses to stop her fun. We feared she would reinjure her nose, but she had no fear AT ALL.

She chose not to dwell on it – a lesson many adults could benefit from learning. The urge to play was stronger than the urge to wallow. So, she got back up, and got back to the business of having fun.

We left shell-shocked. She acted like nothing happened – with a smiling little face of resilience.

Carry on, Sunshine girl.

Still with a bruise - a smiling face of resilience. Our little tough girl. | thisgratefulmama.com

Still with a bruise – a smiling face of resilience. Our little tough girl. | thisgratefulmama.com

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5 thoughts on “Shell Shocked Parents…And The Face Of A Child’s Resilience

  1. Poor girl! But this hits kind of close to home. Caroline and I took a tumble down the stairs Thursday morning and I went in to panic mode! All is well she is just fine not even a mark on her body. I have a bruise the size of Texas on my thigh. Glad all turned out well.

    • Oh no! I fell on our stairs in the old house carrying Aiden – it was awful! Seth and I BOTH went into panic mode checking his whole body and I think we even took him into the doctor because I was so freaked out. Glad you are both ok and so sorry that happened!

  2. Oh “that sound”…you are so right about every parent knowing “that sound.” Aren’t kids amazing? I am always blown away by how they just brush things off and move on. Meanwhile their mamas are breathing into paper bags, trying to calm down! Haha! I am happy to hear that she was ok!

  3. Wow I know this feeling too well! We ran the gambit already (the older kids are 15 & 11) and we’re actually planning to take the little guy (20 months, and me 7 months pregnant ) to the Children’s Museum next week! I’m sure I’ll be thinking of your little one while we chase him around! !

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