My son is a movie fan. He watches movies obsessively. Over and over, and will reenact scenes or experiment with concepts in those movies. He watches Home Alone, he lays traps out for thieves and directs his siblings on how to set up the traps and guard windows. Trigger strings and all.
I am aware of this artistic and scientific experimental side of him, of all children. This is why, each winter, I sit the children down and explain winter and snow safety to them. One must wear their winter gear, one must walk slowly on ice, one must get into the car immediately in the parking lot, one must never touch anything outside with a wet body part. Especially the tongue.
My oldest son decided to reenact a scene, on the flagpole, outside the building as I buckled his sister into her carseat. I turn to find him and his brother, not in the car as instructed, but across the parking lot. This is winter guidelines violation number one. He has his tongue attached to the flagpole, and this is winter guidelines violation number two.
In real life, it is not like a movie scene. It is not sterile, nor funny. The blood is profuse and cascades out of your child’s mouth. It is alarming, panicky, and horrifying.
I am a single mother with three kids. My hands are full on the way out to the car, but not with any sort of drink for myself. I am not a yuppie mother with a Keurig and an au pair to carry my gear. This is reality, and not a Facebook status update. I have nothing to pour over my son’s tongue to help him. It is six degrees below zero. There is not much help to be had, with a liquid, anyway, at that point of frozen.
My son does not feel pain as other people do. He has sensory issues. So as his tongue is madly bleeding, and I am trying to get my spit over the spot where it is connected to the pole, he is not feeling enough pain to stop pulling away from the pole. Like an animal, he rips his tongue off the pole. A piece of his tongue is still there.
I take him to the emergency room. The nurse tells me that this is the first she has seen, ever. Apparently, this happens all the time in the town I live in, but no one brings their child in to the Emergency Room for it. I guess the local families don’t worry about blood loss or deformed tongues as I do. I am a city girl, and it was apparent in the hospital that I was being humored. The doctor did see him, and he is going to be fine.
Of course, while I was in the hospital with him, no one told me I was covered in blood, myself, from my face to my fingers. I did not even check. I cleaned up my son, after the nurse, until he was spotless. I took him to school, in front of all the children and teachers, with blood all over me. In the car as I was leaving, I saw the blood in the rearview. I looked vampiric.
He did not eat that day. That night, he asked for ibuprofen and got it.
The children got a nice, long, emotional lecture about what happens when you do not follow Mommy’s instructions, the visual accompanying it being the oldest of them and his ravaged tongue. 123 Magic could not keep my mouth shut that day. When the doctor handed me the aftercare sheet, I asked him if it contained a list of all movies with frozen metal/tongue scenes. He laughed at me. I was serious. Prevention is the cure.