We’ve never had a real emergency around here. There was the one time I took Thing One to the ER to make sure she didn’t have appendicitis. One x-ray, one ultrasound, one straw in the arm (which is what the nurse told her the IV was), and one thousand dollars later, we left Children’s Hospital knowing nothing more than she didn’t have appendicitis.
This afternoon the sun was shining, the birds were chirping little birdie warbles, my kids were playing chase on the way in the door to preschool. Everyone was happy—and then there were tears. Thing One smashed her finger in the heavy, industrial, community center door. She got it good, it swelled up purple, bled a little, and I am pretty sure she has never been in that much pain in her entire life. Meanwhile, I drop Thing Two in the preschool classroom; he steals a toy giraffe and runs back out the door. I had one heavy five-year-old on my hip sobbing, the two-year-old laughing at me as he runs out the door. I decided we would all just go back home.
And that is the point my maternal instincts kick in and I question everything I should do. Should I take her to the hospital? She is practically screaming in agony. What if her tiny fingertip is shattered? Bones poking out, bleeding under the fingernail. And then I think about what doctors normally do for a person with a broken finger—nothing. Maybe a splint, but mostly because the patient needs to have something physical attached to make him or her feel like a treatment is “working.” I remind myself that they don’t prescribe pain killers to kids. If I were to take her to the emergency room they would tell me to give her Tylenol, give her a Band Aid, and bill us for $500.
So I didn’t take her anywhere. I gave her the Tylenol, told her to hold her hand up in the air (only after she refused the ice), and bought her some Barbie Band Aids. Two hours and a little nap later she was good as new. Her middle finger on her right hand is still enormous and purple, and every time she shows me her Barbie Band Aid she smiles at me while she flips me off.