There was the loud semi-hollow bang of face on radiator followed by the silent intake of breath that was pregnant with rage and pain. All parents know it as a precursor to a scream that can be heard in France. There was quite a bit of blood.
This happened on a grey autumn Sunday and we piled into the car to get my youngest son to the Minor Injuries Unit, driving through the sheeting rain as fast as the weather would allow.
He was fine, just a couple of Steristrips and a cuddle later and he was right as rain.
I learnt something about myself though. Firstly, in the middle of a crisis I can be calm, focused and able to act quickly. Get towels, get in the car, drive with the kind of focused accuracy not normally seen in Devon.
Secondly, in the immediate aftermath of a crisis, I am a bumbling fool.
After dropping my son and wife off at the MIU, I was sent to acquire snacks and treats in case the wait was a long one. We also needed change for the parking.
I drove to Tesco to collect supplies and as I did so the adrenaline leeched from my system leaving me deflated and trembling.
By the time I’d got there I was so strung out that I just wondered around the aisles vacantly putting objects into the basket.
As such, my trip was less than successful in its stated aims and concluded with me buying:
- Three bags of Cadburys Double Decker bites (everyone knows Double Deckers are rubbish);
- One bag of Cadburys Giant Buttons;
- One 500g bar of Cadburys Dairy Milk;
- One 100g pack of fizzy cola bottles;
- One 250g pack of Haribo ‘Tangfastic’ sweets;
- One bag of Tyrell’s Root Vegetable Crisps;
- A six-pack of non-alcoholic beer;
- 28 cartons of apple juice;
- A bottle of bleach;
- A £5 scratchcard that didn’t win me any money;
- Some dried yeast;
- No change.
When I arrived back at the MIU, carrying enough confectionary to give a bull elephant type-2 diabetes, my son and wife were nowhere to be seen. It’s moments like these that my imagination takes over and fills in the blanks. Unfortunately my imagination decided to drop in images from every hospital drama I have ever seen.
My mind’s eye populated the corridor with my son on a gurney being rushed to some specialised room. George Clooney was probably firing up a defibrillator or something.
“Are you looking for the little boy with the cut face?” An old lady in the waiting area was eyeing me suspiciously. To be fair to her, I must have looked a state: pale from the adrenaline come down, dripping with rain, frantically looking around for my family. I nodded and put the bag down – the non-alcoholic beer bottles clinked together and she turned to give the person sat next to her a knowing look.
“They went in a minute ago.” She said in a tone that strongly suggested it was for the best and I should leave the poor child alone.
“Daddy! I got a sticker – look!” The chirping voice of my son made me turn to see my wife coming out of a side-room carrying him, small white strips covered his cut and his eyes were a red from crying. He was smiling and waving at me.
My wife noticed the bag.
“How much did you buy!?”
“I didn’t know how long we would be.”
“Probably not long enough to work through this lot. Why did you get Double Deckers,” she said peering into the shopping “everyone knows they’re rubbish.”
My youngest has a scar on his top lip that, whilst it will fade over time, will be with him for life. He is of course okay and he should learnt a lesson about playing a little more safely.
I say should because the next day he was standing on the footstool next to the radiator.
I think he wants another sticker.