This Christmas, my family became one of those families that spends the day in Emergency.
It’s the last place anyone wants to spend Christmas day, but from all accounts it can be one of the busiest, on account of all the new bikes and skateboards and all that. It wasn’t either of those that had us holding a towel to our three year old’s bloodied head on Jesus’s birthday, though. No, it was our new pool and our daring daughter’s somersaults that had me taking deep breaths to keep calm despite the blood pouring out of her forehead.
We moved into our house the day before Christmas. It was our gift to ourselves, and co-incidentally, it was our first swim as a family in the pool. She well and truly christened it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the thump I heard following the ‘watch me, Mummy!’ as her head collided with the pool paver before I could rouse on her and say (for the 49 Millionth time) “DON’T DO SOMERSAULTS INTO THE POOL!”
The kids is three, for god’s sake, she shouldn’t be attempting Evel Knievel type stunts — but she still does, despite my nagging warnings which makes me sound like my mother. In fact, since she learnt to swim properly, every time I open my mouth my mother comes out. “Don’t run around the pool”, “Watch where you jump”, “Don’t drink the water”, “Time to get out now it’s getting cold!”
I have this saying I live by: ‘What you fear, you create’. It’s one of those annoying ones I could load up to Instagram with some sort of fancy font that you would quickly scroll past, and never give a second thought to. But I dead set believe it, and Christmas Day was testimony to it, because every time Millie Knievel throws herself into any pool, her hitting her head is my greatest fear, and it happened on the happiest day of the year.
After the thump she thankfully came up screaming, while I ran to her screaming, and for a good 10 seconds we were both screaming until we realised everything was OK — except for the gaping hole in her hairline. So off to Emergency we went, and a bit of happy gas later, my daughter graduated to a proper childhood with four stitches in her little noggin and a new best friend.
The lovely nurse May, who held her hand while administering the gas, was invited over to our new house for a sleepover in Millie’s new big girl bed. “Oh, you are adorable,” May replied to Millie’s kind invite, while I got a glimpse of what Millie will be like after a few champagnes in the distant future — she will be an ‘I love you’ drunk, not an angry one.
Doctor George, who stitched her up, didn’t get the sleep over invite (Mummy wouldn’t have minded, his alleged nickname is gorgeous George) but instead was told “I don’t hate you anymore” as the happy gas set in, cementing my prediction for her future drunk self. The effect of the happy gas made me wonder why vaccinations aren’t administered with a little tipple of it — if not for the kids, then for the Mums who know we are doing the right thing, but still feel awful for the pain it causes them.
Which leads me to this — Mother Guilt. After we got home from the hospital adventure and put our little wounded warrior to bed (next to me, so I could hear her breathing through the night just in case), I couldn’t help but feel like I had let her down.
Even though the doctor assured me her future modeling career would still be intact as the scar is nestled nicely in her hairline, she still will have that scar forever — because I took my eyes off her for a minute, because my warnings weren’t firm enough, because I built a house with a pool, because I don’t have super magic powers that could rewind time and stop the accident from happening in the first place.
God help me if she ever breaks a limb.