My Dad Shining Moment: A trip to the ER
Sorry for the lack of writing, but I had this thing happen last week...
“Go back to bed and don’t get out, like I ALREADY told you to do!!”
I’m not always at my *parenting best*.
She runs back upstairs. A huge THUNK. An instant scream.
My 7-year-old daughter is already prone to drama, so I begrudgingly marched up the stairs to investigate. Practically rolled my eyes.
To my credit, she had JUST been put to bed, given the speech for the 417th time IN A ROW to "not get out of bed, for any reason."
We did our Big Breaths and I went downstairs. ("Big Breaths" are my parent hack to encourage yawns and quicker fall-asleep times. It works 3% of the time, and is, therefore, VERY worth it.)
Four minutes later, she came downstairs to ask me if she could have a hermit crab. A HERMIT CRAB, people.
So when she screamed and said there's blood, I expected a scraped shin.
But when I flicked the lights on, I saw a stunt double from that Carrie movie.
A waterfall of blood from her forehead.
Time stopped. There was no room for emotion. Or disgust. Or caution. Only action. "KATIE. CALL 911. RIGHT. NOW."
A fire truck arrived 90 seconds later. The firefighters did their assessment. Calm, helpful, kind. Like pros.
She didn't have any signs of concussion, but she did have an open 2-inch vertical cut on her forehead.
It is SO BIG.
It looks like a special video from a YouTube makeup influencer at Halloween.
"Hi guys, today I'm going to use stage makeup to make a gash look so real that it will make parents in your neighborhood throw up. Trick or treat!"
The Emergency Room
The firefighters directed me to the UCLA Hospital emergency room. Thirty minutes later, we were checked in and waiting for our turn.
Now, seeing a tiny blond-haired 7-year-old running around is an anomaly in the ER. Everyone was, at first, delighted to see her. And then they’d double-take when they saw the cut.
As we settled in for our long wait, my mind drifted to writing.
I had planned to do some writing that night. It was the first day of’s "one funny line a day" challenge. So I wrote this, right there in the ER.
I sent my daughter back to bed
After chastising her for getting out of bed
To ask if I would buy her a hermit crab
And she cracked her head open
Joke’s on me
Guess who’s buying a hermit crab now
I’m Mr. Hermit Crab
I’ll never live this one down
She’s gonna be DROWNING in hermits
Every crab I can find that hates leaving the house
I’m gonna buy them all
Extroverted crabs- I don’t need you
Singing, dancing crabs
I want those introverted crabs
The crabs who don’t know how to talk to girls
The crabs who still live in their parents’ shell
The crabs who bought Bitcoin early
I want a loner crab, from the desert of Tatooine
I want Obi Won Cranobi
I'll get him for you
”These are the crabs you're looking for”
Unexpected Kid Bravery
This kid was full of it. Not like a normal kid with a 2-inch gash in their head.
As the nurse was checking us in, something dawned on my daughter.
I’m confused. She’s not upset; she’s annoyed.
“Oh great - why didn’t this happen BEFORE I had to write my Ouchie story at school?”
Me: (laughing) "What did you write about, then?"
"The time [my sister] punched me in the arm! THIS IS WAY WORSE!"
She's in it for the content.
At one point, she had to go to the bathroom in the ER Lobby.
But the gauze was off
So I made her promise
to not look in the mirror.
I waited just outside the ladies' room, like a creeper
waiting for a scream and tears (again, like a creeeper)
but she simply walked out
and mimed that she had WASHED HER HANDS BEHIND HER BACK
and said "all good!"
with a two-inch open wound on her head like an extra from Scream.
It Gets Real
When we finally were ushered into an operating room, where we waited for a plastic surgeon to arrive. After an hour, we waited in there, and she got very nervous because she realized that stitches were in her (near) future. She was shaking.
I told her that we needed a code word to calm the shoulders down. To make her remember that Big Breaths weren't just for falling asleep.
My options weren't good enough:
She thought about it and said, "Fluffy Pillows." This is a kid who loves to snuggle.
So I wound up saying "Fluffy pillows" lots that night. As she got an IV. As she fell under. Under my breath as I was ushered out of the room. In a few silent prayers as I sat alone in the hallway.
After fifteen minutes, it was done. The gash stitched up.
The plastic surgeon pulled me aside to say that he put some stitches IN THE MUSCLES underneath the skin because they were THRASHED.
Hey doctors, maybe when you're talking to a parent of a 7-year-old in the ER, don't say the word THRASHED. Torn, ripped, or damaged is sufficient.
She was hilarious coming out of the anesthesia. Do you know that video of Taylor Swift after getting LASIK eye surgery? Her mom took it and sent it to Jimmy Fallon. Now I have my own secret videos. It's the funniest thing I've ever seen, and you won't see them. They're just for me and my wife and (one day) Jimmy Fallon.
Two days later, she was back at school, and I was only worried about one thing. Would she self-conscious about this giant stitched future scar on her head?
She told me that she hid it behind her hair ONLY so that she could pull it back to SURPRISE her friends: "BAM!"
I think she'll be just fine.
I don't know what life lesson to take from this, except to remember that even big scary hurts can heal pretty quickly, and most people won't even notice the scar. That feels a little on the nose. (or on the forehead?)
So I'll just settle for gratitude that I don't spend more time in the ER, and that when I do go, I have the emotional space to look for jokes instead of looking for hope.
Thanks for following along. Everyone’s doing well.