Sometimes you see it coming before it happens, and despite what you know you are powerless to stop it. This wasn't like that. Somehow, despite all of my years of watching children fall, despite all these years of living on concrete I didn't anticipate the inevitable: when your child's hands and feet are bound (handcuff style, with plastic Hawaiian leis no less) and she is doing her best to wobble her way free from the preschool-age policeman in hot pursuit, she will fall. It was dull thud. Not the smack of flesh on smooth surface, but the dull ache of bone on stone. Instantly I was hauling her up (bound as she was) and the blood was immediately apparent. Teeth or chin? Chin or teeth? It is a question I've asked so many times over the years while holding and rocking, containing blood, applying ice, waiting for a bit of calm to assess the injury. Saying the silent "please let it be chin" prayer.
It was. A little half inch split right on the smooth skin stretched taught across her sweet little chin. Half and inch, yet somehow a gaping, bloody, a ragged wound on my girl. I knew it meant stitches. And so we sat. Blood smeared on my hands, on the floor around us, neat little red blotches on her pink leotard and tights. I held the ice and stroked her brow. I took deep breaths and tried to will away the throbbing in my ears and sweating. I am not a fan of blood. Wylie hid upstairs (he is really not a fan of blood). Kale was being as helpful as he could: fetching the phone to call Papa, retrieving ice from the freezer, taking out the lap top for a bit of media therapy. It was quite a little scene.
After a short trip to the ER with Rob she was home, stitched, band aided, and nearly as good as new. At bedtime I showed her my scar from stitches as a kid, and Rob showed her the scar on his knee. She's a little sore, a little embarrassed, a little bit proud. She's got a new story to tell. My mother has always reminded us, "what doesn't kill you will make you stronger". I'm not convinced that's always the case, but wiser maybe. They won't be playing cops and robbers with hand cuffs again.