I heard the cry instantly. It wasn’t the I’m-pretending-to-cry-to-get-my-sister-in-trouble. Nor was it the high-pitched cackling that makes you think someone is crying. It was a full on panicky, pained cry – and I knew immediately our evening was going to change.
We raced to the basement to find 5 year old Josh on the ground, cradling his left foot and screaming that a “green boulder” fell on his toes. I looked around for the boulder (imagining some kind of Wile E. Coyote situation gone wrong), and all I could see were 10 pound green hand weights next to the treadmill.
The next color I saw was red. As in, blood seeping through Josh’s white sock. Despite his screams of protest we took the sock off and saw his big toe, smashed, the nail popped up and a sea of blood like his foot was just amputated.
My first thought: What happened?!! Second thought: I’m going to pass out.
Parenting school does not prepare you for this. I’m not good in bloody situations or wounds that may require an ER. You wouldn’t want me as your trauma nurse. I’d probably throw a towel over your gunshot wound and say “Just don’t look at it, it’ll be ok.” Then weep quietly.
I’ve learned to deal with my own pain (child birth) and suffering (did I mention I gave birth 3 times?) But catching your child’s dripping blood in your cupped palms is a helpless feeling. I wanted to panic, yell, blame someone or just quietly step out the back door.
But I looked at Josh who was sobbing “Mooooommmmy” and suddenly it felt like I went on a mental dash to the phone booth for a quick Superman change. There is something in your soul that just breaks when your child is hurt, the wish you could take on their pain and the need to make it better at all costs. Instinctive parental Super Powers snapped in. As much as I hate blood, it wasn’t about me any more. To Josh, I was the rock. I had the power to make it all better. Instead of crying myself, I had to reassure, comfort and promise cookies for bravery.
This week, the parental super powers were on full display in suburban Detroit. A father was driving his two sons to football practice, when their car EXPLODED (The Feds think someone planted a bomb in the car). But this father, who was just BLOWN OUT OF HIS CAR, along with his 10 and 13 year-old sons, had the presence of mind to call 9-1-1. His voice is a little shaky, but he’s able to clearly state what happened and then describe the injuries to his boys as “deep tissue wounds”. (You can listen to the audio here) He knew he was in a life or death situation, but was able to keep it together, focused on getting help for his boys (who are expected to be okay). The Super Friends have nothing on this guy.
As for Josh, he’s okay too. After my husband and I spent two hours at Urgent Care, we discovered the toe wasn’t broken. Josh also admitted he picked up the hand weight, only to drop it on his foot. So, no renegade boulders.
Parental Super Powers. We have bionic hearing and built in lie detectors. And when anything happens to our children, we have the ability to do what it takes to make it better. It’s nice to know they’re there – now if only I had the super power to make dinner magically appear on the table.