That’s what my little girl says when she hurts herself. Over the years there have been different levels of “OUCHIES!”
Same as our country’s defense has different DEFCON levels; five being peaceful and one being an all out war, “OUCHIES,” come with their own levels of severity. In regards to parenting and childhood, DEFCON five is peaceful and one is an all out panic with frantic screams for 911.
Father’s and mothers have different responses to each DEFCON levels. Often, fathers confuse the levels of severity while mothers tend to escalate the damage to something more desperate. This may not always be the case, but it seems accurate in most.
Under my watch at a young age, my little girl was at the early stages of walking when she fell, face first, on a hardwood floor. She did not cry immediately. First, she looked at the floor. Then she looked up at me, standing with my jaw dropped, and after the shock settled, she discovered the pain began to cry.
She screamed and cried. I went over to pick her up, and shouting from the other room, stomping her feet as she ran over was her mother.
“What just happened?”
My daughter’s cry was too explosive and traveled fast enough to ring the ears of her mother.
“She fell,” I explained.
“Well why weren’t you watching her?”
“I was . . .”
A small droplet of blood came from my daughter’s mouth. This was not the worst, but it was the first of many “OUCHIES!”
I was a bad dad . . .
It was my fault . . .
This is part of parenthood. Falling is also part of life. In this case; however, we went from DEFCON five to DEFCON two in a matter of seconds. Her mother panicked. I panicked. We saw blood, and in the room were other seasoned parents. I call them seasoned because we were only rookies at the time.
“Get used to it,” said one of the dads in the room.
As much as I wanted my daughter’s cry to stop and as much as I wanted to take away her pain, I could not. And as much as I wanted her mother to stop yelling at me and as much as I didn’t want to believe it was my fault; I felt as if it was.
There are times when children fall. There are times when DEFCON five goes immediately to DEFCON one. There are times when we as parents over react, and there are times when I, as a father, did not react quick enough.
Being divorced is not easy. The dissolving marriage is only part of a divorce when it comes to children. I no longer see my child every day. I see her on the weekends, which comes with its share of guilt. There are things I missed. Good things. Things like when she was potty trained, or began saying new words, or singing new songs. Suddenly, the toys I thought she liked changed and she was into something else.
There were times when she was scared and I could not be there to protect her. There were times I was not there to stop her from crying and there were times she fell, and when she said, “OUCHIE!” I wasn’t there to make her feel better.
One night, I took my wife and child out for dinner. I admit I am fortunate to have my daughter get along with my wife. Step-parenting comes with its tricks, but luckily, we have no issues and we all get along.
After agreeing to a Mexican restaurant, we all talked about what we would order. My daughter had grown some. She spoke well and she knew what foods she liked. She was still sitting in a booster seat when driven in the car, but she was at the age where she could buckle, and unbuckle herself without issue. She could also open the car door when she wanted to get in and she was able to close the door when she wanted to get out.
This is when the “OUCHIE!” came.
After climbing out of her car seat, my daughter scooted to my side of the car and exited through the rear, driver’s side door.
“You got it,” I asked.
“I got it,” she said.
She must have left something on the seat that she wanted to bring in with her. She reached in quickly, but changed her mind. Only, she changed her mind a little too late, and when she swiped her hand away, the tip of her pointer finger was stuck in the car door.
I can clearly recall the expression on her face. She looked at me, quite the same as she looked at me when she fell, face first, on the hardwood floor. Then the shock settled in. Then the pain hit . . . and then the crying began.
I felt as if it were my fault. I would have done anything to take the pain away.
Except, there was nothing I could do.
Immediately, we went from DEFCON five down to one. I opened the door and removed her finger. Her nail was purple and thumping; her eyes were running with tears, and inside, I felt like a failure as a father . . .
As a parent, our ability to panic is automatic, but panicking is contagious, because pain is sometimes inevitable, and the severity is often blown out of proportion. I was able to comfort her and we were able to enjoy a meal. She cried, but I held her, and I promised the pain would go away.
I often think about the parents that warned me about the falls and the late night trips to the hospital. They warned me of the high fevers, the stitches, broken bones, falling off the swings, the bumps and bruises, the scraped knees, and unfortunately, the broken hearts that come with life.
If I could, I would take all of these things so my daughter would never have to feel them. If I could, I would catch every splinter, and stop of scratch.
But I can’t . . .
There are so many different kinds of “OUCHIES!”
Like strep throat, or stomach viruses.
And shots . . . because needles are the worst kind of “OUCHIE”
Sometimes, life throws curve balls, and some of those curve balls hurt; not physically, but they hurt inside. We don’t always cry immediately, but once the shock settles, then the pain seeps in, and that’s when the crying begins. But fortunately, pain like this eventually goes away.
The other day, I drove away after visiting my daughter at her camp. She went on with her friends and I walked off towards my car.
I started to cry a little.
What can I say?
I guess Dads have “OUCHIES” too.