Angel Bear burned himself. The day before we’re supposed to leave for vacation. We were cooking noodle soup in the microwave. I went upstairs to fetch something while it cooked, and Angel Bear took it upon himself to try to remove the hot soup from the microwave when it beeped. He did use hot pads, but spilled the soup out onto his right forearm. I heard his scream from upstairs. Not a long, drawn out scream, but almost a yelp, then silence. I went downstairs, and he met me in the dining room. “I spilled my noodle soup.” Not, “I burned myself”. He was worried about having spilled his soup. I put him on the stool in front of the kitchen sink and started running cold water over the burn, but it was clear this was more than just a minor burn from the way he was crying. Angel Bear is no wimp, and he doesn’t cry easily or for long when he is hurt. An hour later, after ice, a dose of Tylenol, and a failed attempt to divert him with one of his favorite movies, he agreed to let me take him to the clinic.
Just knowing that relief was soon to come, he stopped crying as we reached the clinic, and only whimpered a few times while we were waiting to be seen. It was clear the pain had diminished significantly because he actually dozed for a few minutes on the exam table, with his head resting on my lap, his arm resting on the ice pack. Bless the staff, when I asked if he could be seen immediately, they got us right in (despite the one hour wait), and had his arm dressed and us out of there within about half an hour. By then, he was no longer crying, and not in nearly as much pain. He didn’t even need the codeine the clinic prescribed. But, it was nice to have it available, just in case.
I’ve always believed that it was up to the adults to keep calm during any crisis involving a child or children. So often I see parents at the park panicking or over-reacting to a child’s minor bumps or scrapes, and wonder what would happen if the child were actually, seriously injured. Most kids, I think, take their cues from their parent’s reaction. Is this bad? How bad? Should I be crying? Screaming and writhing? Or, is this something that hurts now, but is going to be okay in a little while? I think Papa Bear and I have done a pretty good job of keeping calm in a variety of parental-angst-inducing situations, including Brother Bear climbing 15 ft up the magnolia tree in our front yard. And I think, overall, the kids have benefitted from our mild responses. Angel Bear could have very easily panicked and become hysterical when he burned himself, but he didn’t. He cried, but he stayed very calm. He’s going to always remember the day he was burned by the noodle soup, and he’ll probably always be more cautious in the kitchen (which is a good thing). But he’s not been traumatized by the event, and that’s the most important part for me, and I think for him.