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August 6, 2012


Bribery is a parenting tactic that we employ regularly around our house. It has firmly implanted itself as an excellent way to drive home important life lessons about eating our vegetables or honoring one's parents. Want a chip? Eat your carrot. Asking to watch TV? Pick up your toys. Want your pacifier? MAKE ME A SANDWICH.

It should come as little surprise that when this past Friday night rolled around, I was ready to whip out the big guns to enjoy a family night with minimal whining, but both Jonathan and I found ourselves getting an inadvertent lesson in bribery thanks to the little man. What began as some fun working with Daddy in the backyard quickly turned into heart-pounding panic when Jonathan appeared at our back door with a bloody little boy in his arms.

Rushing him into the bathroom to try determine the extent of the damage, I asked what had happened. Between the little man's tears, Jonathan told me how Nathaniel's head had gotten into a fight with a paving stone. The paver won. Nathaniel ended up with a nice big gash.

Because I couldn't get a clear view on how bad the damage was, I scooped the toddler up and had him buckled into his carseat in record time. Our drive to Urgent Care may or may not have included a panic-induced (read also: highly-illegal) driving move directly in front of a police officer, but for whatever reason, we received a little extra grace on that drive and made it to our destination without incident.

The line to see a doctor stretched out the door, but I stood there with my sniffling little man waiting to be checked-in. We finally handed over our insurance card and found a seat and then we waited. And waited. And waited. We watched people be seen who had arrived after us, people who clearly weren't in any immediate danger of loss of blood or infection. I took a few deep breaths, reminding myself to be the calm mama, to be patient, and not to be the squeaky wheel. But a half hour of watching my son sit and bleed was my limit, especially since I needed something to catch the blood running down his head.

I walked back up to the woman at the counter, mentally reminding myself that I wasn't a Western gunslinger in a movie, and tried to be nice.

Me: Excuse me. Do you have something I could hold against my son's head?

Employee: Um, does he need an ice pack?


Employee: Oh, here... [sheepishly hands me gauze and picks up phone] Yes, there's a little boy here who hit his head and he's bleeding. We need to get him in right away.

I resisted the urge to fist pump my way back to my little boy and silently celebrated as we were ushered back into an exam room, gauze and all. Almost immediately, the doctor came in and expertly analyzed the situation, informing me that Nathaniel would need staples in his head.

Somewhere between talk of WOUND and BLOOD and V-SHAPED GASH, I started to feel a little woozy, but I held it together as best as I could as the nurses numbed Nathaniel's head and pinned him down for the procedure. As they prepped him, all I could think was how awful this would be and how panicked he would undoubtedly become. I pictured thrashing around and screaming, the kind of things that he will be discussing with a therapist at the age of thirty.

But HE ROCKED IT. He defied toddler logic in every way, lying perfectly still as the doctor cut his hair and applied the staples. He sniffled a few times but I was ready with my tried and true bribery tactics and pulled out all the stops to keep him happy. After all, it's not every day that he gets staples in his head.

Nathaniel: Mommy, I don't like this. I'm scared!

Me: It's okay buddy. You don't have to be scared. I'm right here and I'm not going anywhere. We were making pizza for dinner... do you want to go home and have pizza?

Nathaniel: Yes, please.

Me: Okay! Great! We'll have pizza! And maybe some... chocolate milk?

Nathaniel: Yes, please. Mommy, I'm scared!

Me: It's okay buddy. You're doing great and I'm so proud of you! We'll snuggle as soon as the doctor is done making your head all better! Would you like that?

Nathaniel: Yes, please.

Me: Okay bud. Hey, maybe when we get home, we could play with your Legos! Does that sound like fun?

Nathaniel: Yes, please.

So after a few more yes please's and a grand total of five shiny new staples, the doctor was finished and I lunged for a glass of water and a place to sit with my head down. Nathaniel got huge points for making it through like a champ. I got huge points for not passing out cold.

A few days later the toddler is well on the mend, but my heart still pounds a bit when he is playing near the paving stones. Hopefully, that Frankenstein-esque scar will serve as a lesson learned, but whether that lesson is to avoid the pavers or that head wounds bring about pizza and treats is yet to be determined.

The moral of this story: practice your bribery skills. A combination of bribery and chocolate milk can never fail.

1 comment:

  1. OH man! I hope his head is healing up nicely and I am SO glad you didn't pass out!