France Day 20: The Injury
It was our second attempt at exploring Roussillon. If you missed our first attempt, this is where we went instead when the public access to the deep canyons closed. The children were having a great time just digging and swimming in the red, dry dirt. Bittykins chose this place, of all places, to play "whale in the sea" and got on her tummy and scooted herself all over creation, looking like a seal. Butterscotch basically became Indiana Jones in his mind, finding imaginary clues and imaginary treasures for an imaginary expedition that changed every few minutes. There was a trail, and every time we stopped for a pretty view, it was harder and harder to keep the kids following us when it was time to move on, so we moved more and more slowly, allowing them to lose themselves in the woods in their imaginations. The children were also kind of tired on this warm and windy day, and they were showing signs of it by being distractible and flighty. I kind of knew we needed to hurry on up and get home for naptime. I checked my bag for water bottles and snacks. We were on the verge of needing distraction and/or comfort, I could just tell, despite the fact that everything was still, at this point, peaceful.
Then another family came behind us and Butterscotch decided he would make the grownups give him a secret password. Of course, no one could guess it, and though the parents gleefully played along at first, it was Geoff and I who became annoyed, because we also needed to keep moving because Bittykins was definitely nearing the need for a nap.
I went to disrupt his little game and free the tolerant parents. They passed through with their one little toddler girl. In return, Butterscotch hit me. And hit Geoff. And kicked Geoff, and actually injured us. There were a lot of roots and rocks and in the process of everyone's annoyance, Butterscotch tripped and busted his forehead open on a sharp rock sticking out of the dirt.
Blood. Everywhere. All over his face. Horror show.
My mom always used to say, "Nothing bleeds like a head wound," so I knew it probably looked way worse than it actually was. I didn't panic. I'm cool and level-headed in a crisis, and quick to rationally solve problems. I started pouring the remaining clean water from our bottle onto his wound, removed his shirt, and wiped the water and blood away. Butterscotch's screaming drew help from his aforementioned prisoners, who, being first-time parents, had a backpack loaded down with a fresh, clean supply of every first aid implement imaginable. The girl's mother and I cut a bandage to fit his wound, but he was so belligerent and distraught that we could not patch him up.
The worst part was that he wouldn't accept comfort. And he wouldn't leave the scene of the accident. And he wouldn't be carried. And he wouldn't hold a hand. And he didn't want us there, either. So...we...started walking back through the woods. Geoff and Butterscotch got to the top first, while it took Bittykins and me a bit longer to hike back up all the steps. So there he sat, shirtless, wet, and angry, but still looking adorably pouty, so every person who passed by had something to say to him. To which he replied with a charming scream from the top of his lungs, echoing out over the canyon and well into the beyond. It probably rattled the wine glasses of the people in the village and shook the church bell. It probably sent the cats running and the birds to flight. It probably disturbed the dead in the adjacent cemetery!
We made it back, and I went straight in with him, carried him up the stairs, undressed him, and gave him careful care. Reassurance, explanations of how I would rinse his head, getting his feedback on the water temperature until it was just right, and showing him in the mirror that it wasn't that bad after all. He showered, accepted the bandage without violence, and drew a picture quietly while waiting on dinner.
While Geoff was finishing dinner, which tonight was crepes - amazing! I went upstairs to retrieve at least some undies for my naked toddler. I'd been stashing her clothes under our bed, since she'd been scattering them all over her room when I had her drawer of clothes under her bed. And in our 14-inch-or-so deep, small window through the stone wall, just off the shutter, something caught my eye. An elaborate spider web, golden in the sun, just for a few moments of perfectly aimed sunlight. And only looking back at it now do I recall that a spider web and a window shutter was the cause of my first concussion, at summer camp when I was 12. A boy chased me with a web between his fingers, and I ran without looking smack into an open shutter on the side of the mess hall cabin. I recall how chaotic things felt in the aftermath and what a big deal I felt like my injury was. Poor Butterscotch. I know how he feels.
How do things go from so bad to so good so quickly? And from fine to awful?
I'm not sure, but I want to remember it. Maybe this is the spontaneity I've been missing after all.