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The Lessons Unlearned

Posted by Kristen on January 11, 2010 at 6:37 AM in Raising Boys
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I'll admit I was surprised we made it as long as we did before going to the emergency room with Nate. By one month shy of his third birthday, Ethan had been twice.

As a parent you always fear the accidents you cannot control that are out of your line of vision or happen when you turn your head for just one second. In our family, you would think by now we would have learned that we don't even need to turn our head for disaster to strike.

All three boys were in the bathtub. This gives Derek a nervous breakdown but he continues to do it night after night. He started out just giving the baby his own bath but he couldn't keep the bigger boys from asking exactly one million times "canwegetincanwegetincanwegetin?" Ethan is pretty vigilant about putting a barrier of protection around the baby who acts like he needs no protection. He tips over, gets a stunned look on his face and slowly manages to right himself as fast as a buddha-bellied baby can move, that is.

Nate? He's the one that consistently pretends he has the entire tub to himself. He squirms his way to sit under the warm running water. He shoves past the other two to climb up the side and try to slide down it, regardless of who is sitting below him. He can usually get one good slide in before he gets yelled at for bowling into his brothers. It's an offense that is grounds for instant removal from the tub. It didn't stop him the other night (or any night, really), but this time his chin slammed down hard as he slid.

His father instantly took him from the bathtub for violating the clearly posted "No Sliding" rule and he began to cry. I noticed his hand was bleeding. I rubbed it dry and the blood was gone. Then I saw it was coming from under his chin. He continued to wail pitifully about the injustice of having bath time cut short as we began to do first aid and did not seem to care less about the gaping wound in his chin.

We debated whether or not this required stitches, but once he took off the butterfly bandage 20 seconds after Derek put it on, it started to bleed again. He kept sticking his fingers in it. I normally wouldn't panic but I know where his hands have been. He is not winning any awards for cleanliness. Stitches it is!!

One trip to the emergency room later, Nathan got glued instead of stitched, he spent two hours getting his parent's undivided attention, he got to play with a really cool helicopter while we waited to check out and the nurse gave him Batman stickers.

K: Nathan. Do you understand now why Dad tells you not to slide in the tub?
N: What Mom?
K: Nathan, are you listening?
N: MOM!!! A Rescue Truck!!!! (pointing to the flashing lights)
K: I don't think he got it.
D: No. No, he didn't.
K: Who are we kidding? Ethan got his stomach pumped for eating 40 vitamins in just under four minutes when he was two and he was still calling them candy six months later.
D: He didn't get it.

You don't want your children to ever get hurt or feel pain but there are moments in parenting that you think that just maybe they could get the life lesson if you are going to get the $650 emergency room bill. Wouldn't you agree?


Keith writes...

So lock the bathroom door when bathing the baby.

Trisha writes...

Three might be to many for the bathtub. On the other hand, this little munchkin is going to have some great scar stories to tell later on! Keep those cabinets locked and the phone near by. That's about all you can do with a little boy sometimes:)

Kelly D writes...


i am impressed you guys have only been to the ER three times with the boys :)

Praying for you and the entire family as you live life with the boys :D

Kelly D (from Miami/UBC)

Amber writes...

I am immensely glad that I don't have to pay for emergency room visits. One of the benefits of being Canadian, I guess.

I have taken many visits to the ER with unrepentant children, myself. The truth is you can second-guess yourself and watch your kids like a hawk, but accidents happen. There's only so much you can do to prevent it, and beyond that just thank your lucky stars it wasn't worse. Oh, the joys of parenting!

Jess writes...

My middle son is a "crasher", as somebody I know put it. He is FULL of energy, ricochets off of everything, and has the bumps and bruises to prove it. The most recent episode involved sliding down a banister and whacking his face into the floor when he couldn't stop (maybe Keith would like to volunteer to come police our stairs). One gray tooth later, we're booking a dentist appointment. Sigh.

One of his preschool teachers helped me discover the link between his wild shenanigans and the way he integrates sensory information. The info out there all sounds awful - Sensory Processing Disorder, Out of Sync Child, etc - but giving some of it a read is a great way to gain some insight on how these "crashers" interact with the world.

Marelle writes...

So can you get that glue in bulk? Therefore bypassing the er. Haha. :)

Keith writes...

If the baby's health threatened by this wildness, that's the reason to lock the door during bathtime. Dad hasn't learned _his_ lesson yet.

Karen writes...

A gash in his chin is not a big deal to him? The world needs men with courage and daring like that! Men who set their own terms and are not controlled by fear are the ones who change the world. I have a 10 year old who's like this, physically and intellectually. I am proud of him and I can't wait to see what he does when he goes out into the world someday. But he gets himself into predicaments with some regularity. I stand back and allow it when possible, because this is how he learns, as long as they are things he is responsible for and can work his own way out of. But I would not put him in a bathtub with his baby brother any more than I would let him drive the car. I know how it is-- I'm not judging-- I've got 3 Y chromosomes running around my house, and holes in the walls and in their foreheads to match. I just think that (a) the baby's safety is my total responsibility and not something to leave to chance and (b) audacious boys have the lifelong challenge of learning the hows and whens of their boldness-- why not start now?

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