July 23, 2003 - Wednesday
Harry fell down the stairs this evening. He was a little more than half way down and tripped and tumbled head first. I was in the living room and didn't see it, but heard it. His mother was at the top of the stairs with Jeremy. Just over the last couple of days I've noticed Harry taking stairs with no hands and two feet (rather than a step-together-step approach) and thinking how he's been getting so good at stairs. Perhaps he was thinking the same and got careless. It was a loud bump and an almost immediate cry. I got to him first and held. His mother came into the living and gasped. I looked again and saw the blood running down the left side of his forehead. I wouldn't say that panic was the right word for this. After all, he was breathing and crying, and heck, I banged my forehead twice pretty badly and needed stitches when I was a boy. But, was this the first trip to the emergency room for Harry?
I guess the sound of that first thud is the worst part because the parental mind can scroll through the possible outcomes pretty fast. Hearing the cry eliminates many. The blood pouring out reintroduces a few. But, we got him right over to the kitchen and got some ice and quickly enough saw that the cut was really fairly small, bleeding so much only because the head does bleed a lot. Now the real trouble was settling Harry down and convincing him that we needed to keep the ice on his head for a little while.
The most interesting part of this whole episode came with that swell-reducing, blood-clotting ice effort. Harry didn't like the ice. It was too cold, but we insisted. His objections came in waves and when another came after some 15 minutes (perhaps), his mother and I said something lighthearted "we just want to make sure you're OK, that your cut stops bleeding, that you don't get a big bump, that you didn't break your skull or something..."
Harry did not find it lighthearted at all. "Did I break my skull?" he asked with his voice trailing off into another major episode of crying; bawling really, the worst since the actual fall. It was true honor at this idea of having broke his skull. Of course, it would be a frightening thing if one really understood it. But, where could Harry have learned the true implication of breaking one's skull? Even if it was a comment used protectively at school, could it really mean anything to a three-year-old? A guess so.