Sometimes You Can't Stop Them Falling
It’s funny the things you remember from when you were a small child.
The smell of fresh air. Playing outside until it got dark. Scabby knees, horsefly bites, playgrounds, leaping off a swing as it reaches its highest point. Never fear. Then a tumble taken and the world goes out of focus. Hot tears pour down a creamy cheek. A safe embrace and my mum’s soft voice like velvet in my ear was like a magic wand any time I fell over. She’d tell me about all the delicious things we were going to have for dinner. She could have been saying the alphabet in Chinese to be honest, I think it was just the calming tone of her voice that did the trick.
Reassuring, soothing, safe. Every single time.
I was an outdoorsy sort of kid, played a lot of sports, rode my bike, ran around and generally was full of energy so I fell over a lot. I also rode horse from the age of 9 and I cannot count the number of falls I had off numerous cheeky ponies over the years.
You fall, and you get straight back up.
That’s the unequivocal rule in horse-riding.
And over the years, it’s a rule that got harder and harder to follow. Mostly that’s because of the physical toll it all takes on your body. You bounce less well at 30 then you did at 13!
But I found that it was my own nerves that got dented as I got older, not just my body. As a kid I was never afraid of hurting myself from a fall off a horse. Never. Things like broken limbs, dislocated shoulders, or even broken necks never crossed my mind.
Faster! Higher! Bigger jumps!
But then I became older, wiser and more aware of my own mortality, or even worse a future locked into a wheelchair with no control over my body any more.
I never gave a second thought to how my poor parents felt as they watched me showjump or gallop around a cross country course on flighty ponies. All I cared about was doing well, having fun and impressing them. It never occurred to me that their hearts were in their mouths or that they were terrified I might fall off and really hurt myself.
But as kids we don’t think like that.
My little dude fell in front of me today as he crawled and cut his lip.
It was a nothing fall. It wasn’t as if he had hurled himself off the couch, or I found him halfway up the stairs, he wasn’t even upright. I can’t even say I took my eyes of him for a second, because he was crawling toward me, right in front of me and yet one mis-step sent his face into the ground.
At almost 15 months, he has of course fallen before. But we’ve never drawn blood. There’ve been bumps and bruises. But today there was blood.
And oh sweet Jesus, did I panic inside.
Blood. Hot blood pouring out of my baby’s mouth.
My mind went into overdrive.
What do I do, what if it’s a tooth, what if he has broken his tooth? What do I do, where do I bring him?
Pick him up, hold him, soothe him, try and look in his mouth. Is it bad, is it just a scratch? Does it need a stitch?
A cut in the mouth always bleeds a lot.
Tissues, tissues, tissues.
What about ice? He won’t let me see. More blood. Screeching cries, looking to me to fix it, he’s terrified.
Stay calm on the outside mammy, stay calm.
To be honest, my first instinct was to phone my mum for help. But wait, I'm the mum now. It's down to me to do this. I've got to be the grown up.
And I do. Somehow, despite the blind fuzzy panic in my brain, I manage not to lose my shit on the outside. I hold him, I tell him it’s going to be okay, I rub his back, I hold him close, I whisper velvet in his ear like my mum did for me.
And a few minutes later he was fine.
The blood had stopped. His heart had calmed. His cries have stopped. He’s eating Liga and drinking water.
It was a tiny cut on the inside of his lip from his soother when his face hit the ground. And as quick as a wink he laughs to himself, as he goes on playing, goes on climbing, goes on standing, chasing the dog around as if it never happened.
I smile at him and turn away as I try to keep the tears from going past my sockets. My legs get shaky as the Adrenalin leaves my body and I suddenly see my parents in a whole new light.