And of course, we are watching. Most of the time. They always say that having kids means you need to have eyes in the back of our head, and it's true - they can go from safe and sound to in imminent danger in next to no time.
I'm generally quite a relaxed mum. It's something I'm becoming more aware of as time goes on, particularly as hubs is much firmer than I am in comparison. Every parent parents differently and quite often the type of parent you think you will be isn't necessarily the same as the one you become. I think whilst hubs and I often take different approaches, which can cause some disagreement, we probably balance each other out and I'd like to think we can find compromises and negotiate a middle ground so there's no good cop / bad cop scenarios for Ethan to take advantage of.
When at home, Ethan mostly has 'free-play' time and can choose what he wants to play with and use the space as he wishes. We're always around to keep an eye on him and to join in when he wants us to, and find that this works well for all of us; Ethan is independent but will also play happily with us and others, and we feel we have enough space to do what we need or want to, knowing that at least one of us is within eye or earshot.
"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood."
- Fred Rogers
But of course, things don't always work that way. Whether you watch your children like a hawk or not, they can and will do something that hurts them / causes mess / makes you want to tear your hair out now and again.
And Tuesday night, it happened to us.
I popped upstairs to get dressed for yoga. Ste was in the dining room on the laptop. Ethan was in the lounge, right next door (and no doors in between the two rooms), playing with a pop up castle book he had just received as a gift. He'd been to the potty a couple of times like a good boy and knowing that he might earn a sticker in return, so when he went into the hall (where the potty is at the moment, to stop him from going upstairs alone), neither of us thought anything of it.
Me: "I'm just going upstairs to get changed, I'll be two minutes, Bubs."
Ethan: "I'll come and help you Mummy..."
THUD, THUD, CRASH.
Ethan had started to climb the stairs but slipped after only a couple of steps and fell backwards onto the laminate flooring, hitting the back of his head. Hubs had seen it happen and rushed to pick him up and we gave him lots of cuddles and tried to console him. But there wasn't any consoling him at all, and he was clearly in pain. Although it was almost bedtime so it could have been tiredness, his eyes started rolling and we wanted to be on the safe side so bundled him up in the car and headed to the hospital.
We waited for three hours in A&E. During this time, there were four other boys in ahead of us, two also with expected concussions. Ethan was crying on and off the whole time and had really got himself worked up, but we managed, after some Calpol, to get him off to sleep (the nurse said it was fine, as long as you can stir them awake again). There was only one nurse on and Ethan was seen at 11.30pm, with checks made to his head, his breathing, his temperature and his eyes. The doctor said that the fact he was able to sleep and wake up was a good sign, as was the lack of sickness and how responsive he was; it seemed that his head was the main source of pain and he had got distressed by the situation.
We were of course relieved. Hubs was so worried, about how Ethan was and also about how we might look like careless parents, but in the waiting room, it was clear that these things happen - however careful you are.
Ethan stayed at home with Daddy yesterday and was fine, eating and playing as normal and sleeping well.
We received a useful leaflet about head injuries in children and what to do, so I thought this information would be good to share as it may be helpful to other parents:
* Following a head injury, keep a close eye on your child for up to 48 hours.
* You can expect any of the following symptoms, and need to monitor them: drowsiness, headaches, vomiting, loss of balance, blurred vision.
* If any of the above are severe, or your child cannot be woken up or has a seizure or fit, contact the hospital immediately.
* Administer Calpol if needed after the incident, as this will often ease the initial pain and don't worry if they want to go to sleep - just make sure they can be roused.
I'm not a medical professional and this is simply the advice we were given and that was handed to us in a leaflet. If it was a bad bump, always seek professional advice and they will be able to assess their condition and advise if any further observations need to be carried out.
It's so easy to panic in these situations, but it's also easy to be confused as to what to do; I didn't know if it was something to really be concerned about or not, so the best thing to do is play it safe and ask for a medical opinion.
Ethan is fine now but knows what happened and knows he needs to stay away from the stairs unless we are there. He's been fine going up and down them for a long while now, often on his bottom, and hasn't had an incident before but as the other night showed, it only takes one slip for something to go wrong.
So always play it safe.