The 4 Lessons I have Learned from Hurting My Daughter
It was a morning like all others; actually, it was a great morning.
It was cold, right in the middle of winter, and I was at a café chit-chatting with a girlfriend of mine, while my little joy was busying herself between scoffing down an overpriced buttery croissant and playing with the keys hanging from a door. We were having a great time. I then invited my friend over to my place, so my daughter could go down for a nap.
I made some teas for the two of us, and I placed the cups on the floor; I will always remember that split of a second where I thought “I shouldn’t place the tea on the floor, but Luna won’t touch it”.
It is true, my daughter doesn’t sleep well, is super vocal and kind of a fussy eater, but she never touches things she is unsure about, and especially hot things; she stays away from fire, chimneys, heaters, soups, coffees, etc. Also that day she didn’t show any interest, but while she was occupied chasing one of her toys, she kicked the scolding cup of tea with her feet, and she poured the boiling water all over her delicate extremities.
I saw this happening in slow motion, as I was sitting next to her, and I couldn’t believe it was happening to my daughter, to our life.
Long story short, the skin came off, we run to the doctor, and to the burning unit; she was put on a cast and wasn’t allowed to walk for a week to speed up the healing process.
She cried extensively, she didn’t sleep at night, and she was really grumpy during the day until she settled and accepted her new routine.
I, instead, was blaming myself day and night, crying like a pussy and having nightmares about losing what matters to me the most.
It didn’t help that a social worker questioned me while at the hospital, and between visits; I felt that all my hard work as a mother had been obliterated by a cup of tea and that my daughter was going to suffer from the consequences of my stupid actions.
It has to be noted that a child’s sensitive skin burns far more easily than adult skin. Burns and scalds are a major cause of serious injury in children from newborn to 14 years old. Burn injuries may require painful skin grafts and years of treatment and can result in permanent scarring. Toddlers are most at risk because of their increased mobility and natural curiosity.
In the end, because of great first aid (whenever in doubt…cold water is the way to go), and a zealous doctor and the most knowledgeable hospital staff, my little one came out alright; she has an extensive scar on one of the feet, but she will grow out of it. Since the injury, she has become quite clingy, and mother dependent, which has taught me a lot about motherhood.
If you have to take something from this article, I invite you to:
I honestly thought my child was going to hate me; she, instead, started relying on me even more. When in need, she instantly knew who was the person that loved her the most (and her dad of course). From the first second, she wanted to be in my arms, and to be lulled to sleep as we used to do when she was tiny.
She forgave me completely and started loving me even more.
I, instead, had a tough time forgiving myself, and I had to do lots of groundwork to realise that it wasn’t my fault, and I was a good mother. I was meant to protect her, not to hurt her. I didn’t think this could happen to me, and it did. It doesn’t make me less of a person, as I’m not defined by one single poor choice I made, when I make 1000 other wonderful choices on a daily basis.
Treat a toddler as a child, not as an adult
I love empowering Luna, I allow her to do what she wants to do, and to try things she should stay away from. Always under my radar. I’m that kind of mother that doesn’t say “Don’t jump on the chair”, and I’d rather watch out very closely to see what happens, as I hate the idea of preventing my child from spreading her wings.
Yet, after the injury, I learned that she is still a child, also if she sometimes behaves as an adult. Which means that she shouldn’t be around scolding cup of teas, as silly as it sounds.
I realise that I can still be a supportive mother, without putting her in danger.
Breathe and act instead of panic and freeze
As soon as she got burned I took the socks off, and the skin followed. I then placed her in a cold bath for twenty minutes. I couldn’t stop crying and I kept talking myself down, until my friend told me to get it together, as my daughter was now the priority.
I acted fast, and I didn’t allow my emotions to overcome me.
Driving to the doctor with a shrieking child wasn’t easy, but it had to be done. Pressing down and wrapping my child while she was getting medicated was another thing that had to be done. I hated every second of that experience, especially because I didn’t know how extensive the injury was. Holding my child while sitting on my knees in a dark room and breathing slowly with her for 40 minutes was another thing I had to do, as she was hyperventilating. There was time to deal with my issues in the future, but, at that very moment, she was the top priority.
Share the story and raise awareness
It can happen to you because it happened to me. While learning the first aid while I was pregnant, I thought that only silly, distracted mothers would burn or injure their children; I wasn’t distracted on that particular day, and I wasn’t busy doing something else, and I wasn’t tired either, I was just there, completely naïve on what was going to unfold.
I find that it is important to share my story, because that mum, that parent, could be you. You, that have read all the books on babies, toddlers, and first aid; you, that know the ins and outs of how to make a house childproof; you, that are normally hyper-vigilant and in control.
I was lucky, and I have learned a great deal about gratitude. But not everyone gets lucky. Double-check the place you are in before allowing your child to roam free, so you don’t have to keep on yelling NO, and he can have the best and safest time.