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Ronan Day After
Ronan the day after the accident.

So, before Ronan was born, Terry banned all accidents.

As in, “I don’t want any accidents.” Clearly she’s been around children before.

If you haven’t guessed already, we’ve had an accident. I dropped Ronan on his face.


(Okay, enough with the one-sentence paragraphs! I would totally be in trouble with Ms. Mercy, my fifth grade teacher. She hated one-sentence paragraphs. She also disliked students using different ruled paper. All the paper had to match, for some reason. I never did get an explanation about the paper, but I loved her anyway.)

I was folding laundry with one hand (hey, if you’re a parent and it’s not your wife’s laundry, anything is possible) and holding onto Ronan with my other hand. We were sitting on the bed. You can guess what happened next.

(What happened next is that Ronan has suddenly become super-mobile and I’m still back thinking he’s dependent on me for all movement. I have to catch up fast.)

I was holding him but looking at the laundry. Ronan was looking at the floor. Ronan also hasn’t learned about gravity yet. In one leap, it seemed, Ronan leapt across the bed, off the bed, and plummeted two feet to the floor.

I think the most frightening, sick sound is the sound of your own child hitting the ground like a watermelon. Ronan didn’t move.

He’s dead, I thought. I’ve killed him.

Ronan wasn’t dead, of course. He had landed on his face on the plastic mat that I use for my office chair, which helped. According to the pediatrician, it also helps that his fontanelles haven’t closed yet, making his brain “like a ping-pong ball,” which on second thought isn’t a very reassuring image at all.

I was so freaked out in that first split-second I couldn’t move. Ronan moved first. He sat on his face for what seemed like forever and then he sat up. The baby equivalent of “ouch” is a deep wail, kind of like Wesley’s scream from the Princess Bride, only not funny or romantic, just completely heartbreaking for the hapless parent who must endure the sound of their child at their worst moment. Ronan usually cries like “waahhh” or “doi doi doi waaah” but this cry was unlike anything I have ever heard the kid make. It was like “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh” and just kept going and going. I wasn’t sure if he as going to run out of vowels or air first.

I picked him up and he buried his head in my chest and gripped my arms. Which, ordinarily, is a nice feeling when I haven’t just witnessed his defenestration off the bed. Despite his need for attention and comfort, I had more immediate concerns. At the time of the accident I didn’t know that he had landed on his face. In fact, at first it looked like he didn’t have any injuries at all. All Ronan wanted was for Dad to comfort him and hold him close, and here was this crazy man feeling him all over trying to see if his bones were broken as he didn’t look like he had any injuries.

Soon the swelling started, revealing his injuries. Ronan had two bumps; his lips were swelling, and I was looking to see if his teeth were damaged and bleeding, which meant that I had to as gently as possible pull back his swollen mouth to expose his gums. I’m sure, if he could form coherent thoughts, he would have started cursing his father, as all he wanted was some snuggles, and the crazy old dude is sticking his finger around his mouth looking for, but hoping not to find, blood. Thankfully I didn’t find any, and after three phone calls to an increasingly exasperated pediatrician, I began to calm down. Which is when the forehead started to swell.

So now I’m looking at my son, who has a swollen upper lip and nose, and a swelling forehead, with what looks like a mild scrape. As I mentally apply for Dad of the Year and prepare for child services to take him away, I realize something even worse. If Ronan gets a bruise, he’ll have it in the family photo portrait next week at the Meyers family gathering for Thanksgiving, and then I will NEVER hear the end of it.

Terry had this plan – she would get her side of the family together and we would get a professional to photograph us while we were all in Florida. As an anniversary present for her parents, she would buy whatever prints they wanted. Then it got serious when her sister-in-law convinced Terry’s Dad to buy the same shirt for everyone so we wouldn’t clash. Since the Meyers sit for portraits only every twenty years, I should have known it was a big deal.

As images of a bruised, unhappy grandson sitting on the Meyers mantelpiece until 2027 danced in my head, I decided I would compound things by calling Terry and telling her that on my watch, our son had landed on his face from high up. On the one hand, it was good (if anything about dropping your son on his face can be deemed “good”) that Ronan’s accident happened when I was watching him, because Terry would never have forgiven herself (clearly, I have forgiven myself, can’t you tell?) for about, I dunno, twenty years. She probably would apologize to him at his wedding. On the other hand, I would have to tell her that her son was injured, and she should resist the desire to fly out of work like a bat outa hell and come home.  Actually, of course, I worry needlessly about such things, because she was as always very supportive, appropriately concerned, and didn’t blame me at all, and only mildly wanted to run home. Which is good because I was already blaming myself, and if she was down on me, I would have probably actually cried.

We were talking, and I was explaining the accident, and why I thought I could hold him and fold laundry at the same time. Ronan, who was now quite inseparable from my chest and quite comfortable, started to fall asleep. By the time I hung up with Terry, he had fallen completely asleep.

Which is great, right? He sleeps, he gets better, and everybody’s happy and relaxed again.

Well, I’ll try to keep that in mind the next time he plunges off of something, because no matter how irrational I thought myself to be, I kept wondering if Ronan was actually in a coma, and had some serious skull fracture or something. Thankfully, as I said, I was being irrational. But I still had a moment where I wasn’t sure if I should let him sleep or wake him up to see if I can wake him up. 

After holding him for about an hour I put him down to sleep. I emailed everyone on both sides of the family to expect a giant bruise on his face and prepared myself for the endless stories every time someone looked at the picture of him on the mantle  for the next twenty years.

The power of babies is amazing on many levels. One of their powers is the ability to heal much faster than children or adults. The next morning Ronan didn’t have a mark on him, no swelling, no scrapes, nothing. He was even in a good mood.

The next week, we took him to the beach in Florida to have the group photo done. Ronan cried when we put his feet in the water and he almost never smiled during the photo shoot. Apparently he loves the beach about as much as his father does.

I don’t know how many First Aid training sessions I’ve been through between summer camp counseling and teaching for ten years. The first thing they teach you is, “Don’t panic!” which is easy to say and not so easy to put into action. The first time a kid got injured on my watch as a camp counselor, the poor kid spoke no English and didn’t understand the warning to get out of the way of the swing about to hit him in the head. He had a gash that bled every time he looked at it. By the time we got from the playground to the camp office, we were both covered in his blood, even though I was holding my hand on his hand to try to stop the bleeding. He was more scared than seriously hurt and needed stitches but was okay. The first time a kid was injured when I was a teacher I had to get my boss to come because I was so panicked I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to do. My boss wiped the kid’s nose and stopped the tears; thankfully that kid could speak English, so we could ask her questions about her condition. So again I panicked the first time Ronan was injured.

In camp and as a teacher, the second time someone was injured, I didn’t panic. I surely hope that the next time (and I’m sure there will be a next time) that I won’t panic and respond calmly to whatever happens to Ronan.

I remember how calm both of my parents always were the many times I was injured, so seriously injured I was in hospital. Now, of course, I know they were faking it, but it really helped me to see them not freaking out. I’ve been around adults that freak out on the outside as well as on the inside when someone is injured, and the poor injured kid got ten times as scared.

So, hopefully, this minor injury was a dry run so that the next time I don’t panic and freak out and call the pediatrician three times in ten minutes.

But the pediatrician better not mind me calling, no matter how many times I call.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 13, 2007 1:46 AM.

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