Last Friday I decided to make life easy for myself.
It’s rare in our house to have a completely empty evening, free from taxi-ing, and this night was no exception. However I had swapped two piano lessons (which involve a sort of hokey cokey – you take the first child down, you bring the first child back as you take the second child down, you bring the second child back, take, collect, take collect, shake it all about) for one All Age church choir session involving us all. Only middlest and youngest had homework, and youngest had forgotten her book anyway. And husband was out for the duration, due back about midnight.
And so I felt in a reckless mood. Hence I decided to scrap the stir fry I had planned and treat the kids to fish and chips on the way home from our choir session. Before chilling out after the minimal washing up that surely my pants dishwasher could cope with.
The sun was shining, we all felt upbeat from singing and meeting up with friends and so we hit the chippie in fine fettle.
Eldest and I queued up (along with, so it seemed, the rest of my village, including a fair few members of the choir) he having decided he is now too mature to swing on the railings outside the parade of shops. Middlest and youngest have no such scruples and so they began their usual swinging and messing around.
At one point eldest (self appointed health and safety advisor) reported to me that he thought middlest and youngest were being ‘a little reckless’. I was nearing the front of the interminable queue and merely commented to the choir member next to me that, and I quote, ‘they will only crack their heads open once before they learn’…
I had just ordered and was waiting for a new batch of chips to be ready (behind a man who was clearly mustering a small army as he had requested 8 portions of fries) when middlest came in and told me he ‘thought’ youngest ‘may have hit her head’.
I rushed out and would like to say for the record that there was clearly no doubt that ‘youngest had hit her head’ as she was standing in the middle of a blood bath looking a bit shocked.
I entered that state that I am sure many of you parents out there are all too familiar with. I call it ‘rabbit in the headlights’. I had no idea what to do first. Console. Staunch blood (with presumably my hands as I had no other sort of useful gear with me, assuming, as I had, that we could manage an outing to our local chippe with just my purse and keys). Shout. Check for pupil dilation with a small torch (no scrap that no equipment). Collect chips.
Luckily for me our take away is situated right next door to a pharmacy which was still open. One of the workers had seen the incident and came out to offer us his facilities. Cane chair (it flitted across my mind to sit on it myself), gauze pads, tissues and wipes. We utilised all of this most fully. Eldest remained in the chippe to field our order. Middlest (always good in a crisis) was oscillating between our two encampments providing updates to eldest and consoling youngest whilst I applied pressure to the back of her head which was gushing blood.
The pharmacist, whilst not asking for any form of reimbursement which I felt doubly bad about considering youngest had bled copiously all over his floor, mentioned the word hospital. Youngest, already in a state of shock, then descended into hysteria. She hates hospitals. Well actually so do I especially on a Friday evening with no spousal support. I inspected what I could see of the wound through her extremely thick hair and decided to get her home and reassess once it was clean. Self triage- I have seen those posters at the A&E and didn’t want to prevent someone in real need from a nurse or doctor. In any event the thought of taking three kids, one in hysterics I was having no joy in rousing her from, to A&E on our empty stomachs was more than I could, well, stomach.
By now the chips had finally arrived. Eldest wandered in really quite unconcerned. Middlest held the gauze pad to his sister’s head while I strapped her in and we drove home amid sobs, screams and snot.
Once we arrived home I dished up food and tried to get her to eat something. We had all gone off the thought of eating a bit but we did our best. Next I stripped youngest of her blood soaked shirt (see above) dumped her in a warm bath and used the saline solution again provided by my friendly pharmacist to clean up the wound. All this amid screaming. Now she felt sick so I gave her a plastic jug. From what I could see the wound actually appeared to be a number of smallish cuts and abrasions on top of a massive egg extruding from her scalp.
I attempted to get the rest of the blood out of her bum length plaits with mediocre success, gingerly brushed her hair and re-braided it, dosed her with Calpol and put her to bed were upon she immediately fell into a deep sleep.
Vowing to check on her vital signs half hourly I returned downstairs to deal with the bloody shirt and floor. I then persuaded the boys into bed after reassuring them that their sister would not ‘die in the night’- eldest looked a little disappointed but tried his best to hide it.
And then at around 8.30pm I actually started my ‘easy’ evening.
Footnote: she was fine. I gave her more painkiller at my bed time which I easily roused her for. She was scabbed over by the morning and able to play football…. and the shirt did come clean, a combination of cold water and Vanish and my new German washing machine saw to that…I am mighty pleased at £10 a pop…