Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Losing my innocence

Paige had an accident yesterday, a pretty nasty one. She was "helping" me make the beds (you gotta start 'em young), and her feet got tangled in the sheet she was carrying. She toppled forward, hit her head, and cut the top of her cheek on a storage basket that Owen and Mitch had disassembled so the little metal thingies that connect the sides of the baskets were exposed. (What kind of baskets require assembly? Cheapo ones that come with unassembled shelving.)

Paige's cheek turned purple and swelled up immediately, and she was not having the ice pack, so the swelling got pretty bad. Now she's got a shiner that Rocky Balboa would be proud of, and everyone who crosses our path asks, "Omigosh! What happened to her eye?"

Clearly the explanation of what really happened is a little complicated. The "she hit her cheek on a basket" story sounds unlikely unless I include the part about the metal thingies in the basket, and that requires detailing the mechanics of the baskets and possibly even admitting that I got the basket/shelf contraption on clearance at Target for $14.99 (because I'm terribly picky about my kids' bedroom decor). And that's a long explanation to offer, say, the lady who works the carpool line or the checker at the grocery store.

So when people ask, I lie. To make the answer simpler, I say, "She fell and hit her face on a toy." And then, because I'm lying, I worry that I look like I'm lying. And then I worry that, because I look like I'm lying, people will think I my beat baby, because why else would I lie? Of course I didn't punch my infant daughter in the eye, yet I find myself straining to "look innocent" even though I AM innocent.

It's not the first time I've felt this kind of anxiety, either. Owen and Mitch have both shown up at doctor's appointments sporting nasty bruises, and I've found myself plotting what to say and how to act if the doctor commented on them, even though the injuries were from roughhousing or falls on the driveway, and I had nothing to hide.

So why all this work to cover up something I didn't do? Is my discomfort coming from some repressed guilt I have about how I raise my children? Do I secretly loathe myself for having spanked them or yelled at them? In my heart of hearts, do I see myself as an evil mommy?

Or am I just completely neurotic?

11 comments:

cbh said...

maybe its because you had a father who worked for social services?? or maybe its because you dropped me down the stairs when i was a newborn. or maybe you're just now feeling guilty about covering my face in plastic when i was little and laughing 'cause i was turning blue. i forgive you if it will help you in your recovery.

Seven_Shades_of_Red said...

Believe me, this happens to me all the time! I feel pressured to have a reason for each and every little scratch and bruise on my babies when I have done absolutely nothing to them! And then I feel like I look guilty and no one believes me... So I have gotten to the point where I don't offer info if no one asks.

One time when my daughter was a little over a year old, she was running and slid on our hardwood floors landing face first on the edge of our glass-top coffeetable, right between the eyes. It looked like someone took a hammer to her face, but I still felt guilty, like I had to prove my innocence.

Don't worry about it! Kids get hurt and we live in a crazy society with wackos so everyone is paranoid. I hardly think CPS will be knocking on the door any time soon!!!

Phoenix said...

I'll tell you, only a good mommy worries that much about it.

All kids get bruises. And as I've got a friend who works in the ER, a normal kid with bruises and an abused kid are two completely different things and most nurses and doctors can tell the difference.

I'd say, she fell and leave it at that. But I'm so sorry she's got a shiner. I hope it goes away in a few days.

Katie said...

No, I think your anxiety is based on the real fear of children's services. In my personal experience, they do often pursue very innocent people and make their lives a living hell whilst blissfully ignoring those children who really need protection. I, too, am always in terror of children's services. In fact, when one of my children had nurse-maid's elbow for the second time in six months, a family friend who was part of the staff clergy at the hospital, accompanied me to the ER to have it checked out. I was so afraid I'd have to answer to children's services and I wasn't confident they wouldn't overreact. They have their place but. . . .

Ilana said...

Thanks for having the courage to write about those dreaded accidents - the kind we moms play over and over in our heads for years. For what it's worth - it was not your fault and it happens to even the most neurotic of us. I should know. I am extremely neurotic.

Bon said...

i always feel horribly exposed whenever O is injured, like people are invited to read on to me any kind of untruths and judgements their imaginations can muster...

i also feel guilty that i've "allowed" him to get hurt on my watch, even though i know it's a part of him growing and learning.

oy. parenthood.

MadMad said...

I go with neurotic, LOL! But seriously - I think EVERYONE shows up at the doctor with bruised children at that age. Half the time, they don't even ask, they're so used to it. Hope she didn't get too hurt, though, and is feeling better!

Victoria said...

In a span of 18 months, my Girl (now 4) broke both bones in her arm (requiring her to be put under to reset and 10 weeks in 3 different casts), fell at school at split her chin (requiring an ER visit and glue, then stitches because the glue didn't hold) and cut open her forehead (which required a pediatric plastic surgeon and 12 stitches).

Yep, I freak when she has so much as a bruise. Join the Neurotic Club.

Hope she's healing up. Poor little one!

LitTeacher said...

Try slamming your child's finger in the van door and then NOT taking her to the doctor until her preschool teacher said "You need to get that looked at" and THEN finding out she needed SURGERY on the broken finger (that had been broken and untended for THREE weeks.) I win.

momma's heart said...

Oh, my can I relate. I'm ashamed to admit it, but we have even skipped church when one or two of our kids were sporting bruises or bumps that required complicated explanations. The problem is, people ALWAYS ask. I never ask about other kids' boo boos, precisely because I know how awkward it is for the parents. Plus, anyone who works with children, like church/school volunteers or employees, are usually mandatory reporters. They only have to suspect, not have evidence. When I was teaching, I never reported but I had colleagues that did, and they didn't need much to justify the call.

Jamie said...

Thank God someone else feels this way. I found your blog after researching baby cheek injuries. My one year old was crawling on our bed today and fell forward and smacked her cheek very hard on our marble topped side table.

She seems fine, but I am super ticked off at my husband for no justifiable reason. I know that accidents happen, but we JUST had to take our 5 year old to the ER because she almost severed the tip of her finger by slamming it in the back patio door. We were planning on going out to dinner tonight, but now I'm afraid we will get arrested...a one year old with a black eye and a 5 year old with a major hand injury...sheesh!

I always feel like I look guilty...maybe because I feel guilty and embarrassed that this happened on our watch.

Not much we can do about it, I guess, unless we wrap them in bubble wrap!