Most days we have a set routine. But today I was excited because we were going to blow off the routine and meet a friend with two little ones at a splash park. Excited…but nervous. Taking 4 small children to the backyard is a chore, so going to a park is nerve wrecking for me. A park with water is almost unmentionable. Especially with a baby who is exclusively breastfed. Especially with a toddler with an eye for mischief and innate desire to roam away. The boys have been asking to get out a little more, but I’ll be honest: I’m scared. What if I’m feeding the baby and the toddler runs from me? What if the baby has a screaming fit? What if someone gets hurt? There are definitely times and places when I need to use wisdom in taking my kids out, but these days, my home bound nature has strictly been motivated by fear…and that just isn’t cool.
So, after breakfast today, I changed all three boys into swim trunks, put sunscreen on them, changed the baby, packed towels, juice boxes, extra diapers, more sunscreen, and all the usual diaper bag necessities. It took us about an hour to get ready to get into the van. I sat behind the driver seat, ready to conquer my fear when Micah, my oldest, asked me a question that has been becoming a regular question once in the van. “Mom, how far away is the nearest hospital from the park we’re going to?”
Let me back up a bit…
Micah has a tree nut allergy. If he ingests any kind of tree nut, he’ll become anaphylactic. We discovered this when he was two, and 3 ½ years later, he’s still very nervous about even the remote possibility of being near a tree nut. Recently, his “nervousness” has grown into full blown fear. Last week, he had a dream that he ate a tree nut and he described to me how tight his chest felt and how he started panicking because he couldn’t breathe. This ugly fear has grown and made him apprehensive about possible injuries, illnesses, and other dangers.
About a month ago, every time we do go somewhere, he asks me how far the nearest hospital is just in case something bad happens. Needless to say, I have been praying for my little man. I deal with anxiety and I know how overwhelming it can be! To see him struggling with the beginnings of it does my heart no good.
Fast forward to today…
In the car, I told him that we need to be careful but not fearful. We talked about playing safely and being smart about what we eat, but how accidents can still happen. I looked in the rearview mirror at his fear stricken eyes and knew that this has gotten out of control. I shared with him how I was afraid too. I was afraid that something would happen and that I wouldn’t be prepared for it. We prayed on the way to the park. We prayed that we would have fun and that God would keep us safe.
The boys ran into the splash pad and had a blast! My friend and I were sitting on the sidelines with our babies cheering our big kids on. Our conversations are usually brief and all over the place because we are interrupted every few minutes! But in one of our brief exchanges, I told my friend about Micah’s fear and his recurring question every time we go somewhere.
As the kids were winding down in the splash pad, they decided to play on the playground. My toddler’s favorite thing to do at a park is walk up a slide. Three boys in, I have to tell you…I really don’t care if he walks up a slide. He was safe, and had I told him to get down, a tantrum would have ensued which would cause him to become unsafe. However, there were other kids around, so I was trying to be cautious and respectful. I was holding the baby, pleading with my toddler when I heard a blood curdling scream coming from across the playground. I turned around to see my Micah with blood everywhere.
I ran, of course leaving said toddler, and scooped my oldest baby up. He had fallen while attempting to conquer the 6 foot high monkey bars. He fell face first. Flat. Right on his nose. After examining his entire face, I realized, yup, it’s the nose.
Let me say here that I am so thankful for friends. I didn’t even have to think about my other kids because she was right there meeting needs before I even knew about them. She had ice and a towel for my bleeder, a snack to wrangle the toddler, and kept an eye on the baby for me.
The bleeding was pretty bad, and Micah was panicking…he said it didn’t hurt, but I had never seen him so upset. I was trying to talk to my friend about what I should do, when Micah had overheard me and screamed “I am NOT going to the hospital!!!!” And I thought he was panicking before! A beach towel, a stack of diaper wipes, and a phone call to the dr. later, we were told to pinch the nose to stop the bleeding and come to his office. We sat until the bleeding stopped, packed up all of our towels, juice boxes, sunscreen and extra diapers and walked to the van. After all the fun he had, he said he did not want to come back to this park.
As I backed out the parking spot, I looked into my rearview mirror into his puffy, blackening little eyes. They were different, I swear. A few minutes later he said, “Mommy, it’s never fun to bleed.” “No it isn’t honey, but you were very brave.” He said, “No I wasn’t. I was scared. I was scared for no reason.” Being the comforting mother, I said “it’s o.k. to be scared Micah.” To which he said “No it’s not. We have to be careful not fearful, remember? And you always say that God is with us, so why should we be afraid?” Wow…right words, but I’m not yet sure we mean them!
The dr. confirmed that the nose was indeed broken, but it was a clean break and there’s nothing we can do but be careful. As we were driving home, I asked how he was feeling. The swelling was making it difficult to breathe, and the pain was starting to set in. His response was “it hurts, but it’s gonna get better. No big deal. The dr. said I can still play t-ball, so I’m o.k.” Really? “But you still don’t want to go back to that park, huh?” He replied, “Yes I do! I was just saying that because I was still scared. The rest of the park was fun, but I probably won’t do the monkey bars until I’m 8.”
Could it really be that simple? Did we just have a lesson in fear today? In one fell swoop, both Micah and myself realized a pretty big fear, and you know what? We’re o.k. Not only that, but I know that I am more confident taking my kids out of the house. Something bad did happen, but I had everything I needed to take care of the situation. Micah did get hurt, but it could have been worse, and he realized that needing medical attention might just be part of the life of a little boy. It is the kindness of the Lord that drives out things in our lives that just don’t belong. Of course my mother’s heart breaks when one of my kids get hurt, but knowing that something was accomplished in our hearts through it brings a lot of peace.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…
I John 4:18