Did I panic when I found lice in kids hair? Hmm. What was I thinking? If there is one piece of parenting advice you should know before you read this, this is the one. Do not panic. Not for trivial things like lice. Not for things like kids not eating or watching too much TV. Because, like it happened to me last Thursday, a real hell will break loose and a new definition of panic will be born, there by making any other panics feel like a picnic.
It all started in the afternoon. Its kids winter break. Murali and I were taking turns working from home and it was my turn in the afternoon to be home. I sent kid upstairs for their nap aka play in your room. I had ton of things to do, my career is a mess right now, so I didn’t even want to force them to take a nap. I really just wanted them to read books or play in their room like they always do, so that I could focus on my work.
Then there was the usual conflicts. I went upstairs, resolved them, gave them new books. I come down and three minutes later, I hear the scream. It was Achu. Something was not right. It was not the usual scream. I run upstairs and find her getting down from her bed, with a bloody lip. Okay, first round of panic hits. It is not easy seeing blood on a kid. I try not to panic, anyway. I pick her up, walk her to the bathroom. I keep telling myself, she just hurt her lip, that is all. No need to panic. Just cleanup. Once I get to the bathroom, then I notice. Her front tooth. Its out. Like its completely at 90 degrees with how its actually supposed to be. Super panic hits. I feel dizzy, she is crying so loud and there is Abhi crying saying ‘I love my sister, I love my sister’. I hug her. She is still bleeding. My dress is little bit red by then too. I tell her she needs to calm down and I cant think when she is crying like that. What was I thinking? I was asking a kid whose tooth is sticking out to calm down. I don’t know how those moments passed. Probably that’s what is called being in shock. Surprisingly, Achu calms down. I go get my phone, keep dialing Murali, guess what, this guys face is pretty much always hidden behind his phone and this one time we have an emergency, he forgets his phone (or so he told me). What a thing!
I calm down, now telling myself that its only a tooth coming off. Its her baby teeth anyway. Doesn’t matter. I get her down. Get kids into jackets, shoes, I don’t remember I was wearing. I sit in our backup car, without any car seats, I try to drive then Abhi tells me I am wearing my pajamas. I go change. Achu is still surprisingly so calm. Too calm. That was scary. I do nothing about locking the door, grab my purse and drive to the pediatricians office.
Luckily, that was close. Nurses let us in. Two doctors come in immediately. I am telling myself still its the baby tooth, then the doctor shows me. Her gums between her two teeth was torn. Like they are only joined at the top, that’s it. I was in such shock. I couldn’t believe this was all happening. I started crying. I am still dialing Murali, he is not answering. Doctors are telling me something, I wasn’t sure I was listening. I am crying. The doctor is asking me to sit down. I just don’t know how I got through it. Its so painful to watch blood on your kid and then to imagine that gum line tearing like that, what pain it must have been for her. Achu starts dozing off on bed. Apparently she was in shock too, hence not crying. Doctor actually woke her up and made her wake to make sure there was no neurological damage. Some time later, I talk to my friend A and then both Murali and he reach the hospital.
Apparently, there were no dentists on call then, so we were asked to go to the emergency in Seattle. I had no choice but to drop Abhi at friends place. I just wanted to focus on Achu because I wasn’t sure what I was doing. A offers to drive Abhi to the other friends house and luckily, Abhi was all excited to go. We head to Seattle. I still don’t know how I was dealing with it. Achu took a nap for a while. I don’t remember how many nurses/drs came to see her, but some three hours later, dentists arrive. They take x-ray, tell us she might loose the two front teeth. And then deliver us the next bad news, as if we didn’t have enough. She actually fractured her bone behind the two teeth. Whatever happened pull the bone right out of its place that the gum tore and her tooth came out. New shock took over me. Forms, anesthesia and consents later, they push the bone back. Her teeth go back a bit. But its not perfect like it was before. I think they were actually leaning to removing the two teeth, but I couldn’t agree. Not because of any cosmetic reason, but just not having those will remind of what actually happened and I didn’t want that. Her teeth will die now in an year anyway, so we thought we would deal with that later.
We got home almost at bed time. On pain meds, Achu slept okay. Okay for her condition, I mean. It was so hard. Its been five days now, almost. She is back to eating a bit normal. No more biting for her. Fracture will take at least a month to heal and she needs to be extra careful to not get hurt again. How could we expect that from a three year old is beyond me. I wanted her to stay at home today, or even this week. But she wanted to go to school. She did. Friends/colleagues who tried to help tell me kids are more resilient than what we give them credit for. May be that’s true. Still, I feel like there is some bomb that’s going to explode any minute. Next follow-up there might be a new complication. I mean, look at how this unfolded. One shock after the other.
Needless to say, it shook up my parenting confidence. I was so amazed at how well kids were at playing with each other and now this happened and I don’t know if I can let them play together again, out of my sight. We have an idea of how this could have happened, but still that doesn’t explain the intensity of the injury. All of this is kind of all hazy in memory now. Little bit of ignoring like I am trying to make myself forget what happened. What a nightmare it was. I see it now as something that’s over. I hope it really is.