“Ben, did you climb up there all by yourself?”
“Yeah, dada! All by myself!”
“You’re such a monkey!”
“No, I’m not, I’m Benny.” Pause. “I’m going to come down now!”
Something you should know about Ben. He never seems to be affected by pain. Time after time he will fall, bump, hit, and smack various parts of his anatomy in a wincing-inducing manner, but he just smiles and continues on his way. He’s impervious…until today.
It was such a gorgeous day: the first flirtations of Spring, 60º days with cool shadows, light breezes that tickle your semi-exposed arms. We had already visited the bears, wallabies, and penguins singing their mating song at Brookfield Zoo. The afternoon hours had taken on the languor of a summer afternoon. So, to take full advantage of this sun-kissed day, we had headed to the park.
Ben is three years old and since he could walk has been determined to keep in stride with his older brother. This has made him a very adept three-year old. So when he called over, “Dad, look at me!” I had little reaction to the eight feet he had climbed up the tree.
I was there, cautious but certain, as he descended the twisting limb of the tree. Then in a flash of five feet and what seemed like five minutes, he lost his grip and came sliding down the bark, landing face first in the mulch below. My heart felt like it stopped as my boy began to bawl.
The sobs erupted and I scooped him up. In this moment, I now realize, I have the maternal instincts of a gnat. Instead of keeping him right there, I picked him up as if we were in some foreign war behind enemy lines and ran a few feet with him before finally coming to my senses and attending to his needs.
“Are you okay? Where does it hurt? I’ve got you, Daddy’s got you.”
I held him with the same caution and care as I did on the day he was born. I desperately wanted to take all his pain away and make sure he was safe and sound. My mind raced and the only message that it heard was take him to the ER, take him to the ER.
Now this is where the difference between dads and moms comes in to play. Perhaps this is stereotyping, but my sister and brother-in-law were there as well.
“Should I take him to the ER?” I asked them both.
“I don’t think so, ” Kristen stated non-chalantly. “Just watch for any more signs or if his behavior is weird then take him in.”
“If it were me, I’d take him in,” Chris chimed in with a knowing glance at my fatherly conflict. “You want to be sure.”
I called Ben’s mom and sure enough she sided with Kristen.
So I did the only thing a freaked out dad can do in this situation. I stuck to my guns. Fifteen minutes later we were in a room at the local children’s emergency room. Yeah, I know, its so cool…an ER just for kids.
A urine sample, x-rays, 20 minutes of the Minions move, a co-pay and an hour later, we were discharged.
“So, doctor, was it wise that I brought him in?”
“I’d say so,” she replied, “it’s a good to be safe. Just watch for any more signs or if his behavior is strange. If so, bring him back.”
Hmmm…that sounded oddly familiar. Ah, forget it. The doc said I was right to bring him…score for the dads.