Contrast

We got a call from pre-school on Thursday morning that Everett had fallen and cut his head and needed to be taken to the hospital. Those of you who have been in similar situations are probably familiar with the ensuing surge of adrenaline while different scenarios race through your mind. No one saw it happen and Everett didn’t cry or tell anyone he was hurt, so all we have to go on is his description: “I was spinning around and I hit my head on the window line”, by which we think he means the ledge under the window. It was a decent-sized gash that caused a lot of bleeding, but┬ábecause he responded so calmly everyone initially thought he had paint on his forehead. As soon as they realized what happened they called us, stopped the bleeding and cleaned him up. Melissa picked him up and Chris met both of them at the emergency room at Children’s Hospital (downstairs from his office). The staff at the hospital and the care he received were both amazing. This was a drastically different experience from what Chris or Melissa recall from ER visits during their childhoods. This was also the first time Chris became aware of Child Life Specialists who tend to the needs of the child during their visit. Equally amazing was Everett’s behavior during the visit. When we arrived at the ER he was a bit woozy and just not his normal self (aka: no wiggles). But within an hour his energy level had returned and he was exploring the hospital room, pushing levers and pedals, turning knobs, climbing on the hospital bed, etc. Despite his energy level he was completely cooperative with the doctors and nurses. He didn’t cry or even make a sound while his forehead was cleaned and stitched (four stitches). By Thursday evening he seemed completely back to normal.

As parents we are proud of him for being so brave, but we can’t help but notice the contrast in how he reacts to physical injury compared to not being in complete control of his surroundings. On Monday night when Chris returned from Washington D.C. Everett had a two-hour meltdown because we left the airport before he was allowed sufficient time to explore and because we didn’t allow him to go everywhere he wanted to (“No, you may not crawl under the piano”). Similar meltdowns have occurred as a result of seemingly minor parental infractions like taking his socks off before he is ready. The incredible thing about his reactions is not just the intensity but his stamina to keep at it until he gets some token of control. And we know that he saves this behavior for us – none of his other caregivers have reported these kinds of reactions. From talking to other parents we suspect that on some level this will serve him well later in life, but that’s difficult to keep in mind during an exhausting battle of wills with a three year old.

 

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