There was blood. A lot of it. And the child was crying her head off. I was parking the car when I first heard her screaming. I left the car running and raced up the steps, almost dropping the house keys in my frantic attempts to unlock the door.
In the house, I found the house girl trying unsuccessfully to soothe Adoti. But the girl was inconsolable. Her chest was heaving, sobs catching in her throat. Her face was awash with tears, and her nose covered in mucus.
But what I found most alarming was the blood. It looked like she had split her lip.
I put her head to my chest, trying to calm her down before I figured out exactly which part of her was injured.
“What happened?” I asked the house girl.
“She refused to stay in the playpen. Every time I put her there she cries. So I put her on the chair. She must have been trying to reach your scarf (it was on the armrest) when she fell down,” she said, showing no obvious signs of distress.
Doesn’t she realise this is a crisis, I thought to myself. What kind of woman remains so calm in the face of calamity? Those had better not be the symptoms of latent psychopathy.
“What! You left her on the chair by herself?” I could feel my pressure rising. My vision was beginning to go blurry. The head was beginning to pound. Meanwhile, Adoti continued to wail. It seemed that she had indeed split her lip, but on the inside.
“Mi humwacha hapo kila saa. Hajawai anguka. (I leave her there all the time, and she’s never fallen off) This is the first time she’s falling. I was just here in the kitchen,” she said.
I don’t know which part of that statement was supposed to make me feel better. My mind could not process the information in any understandable sequence. Words failed me completely.
I have gone all out to make it easier for her to co-exist amicably with Adoti. The house is filled with all manner of child-friendly gizmos and appliances to allow her to work with the assurance that the child is safe.
And bandy legs or not, she could always go the old-fashioned route and put Adoti on her back. So why, pray tell, would she leave an 8-month old alone on the couch, when there was every possibility that she would fall off?
I couldn’t find an answer for that, so I let it go.
“Let’s clean this area around her mouth with Dettol,” I said.
By this time, the child had stopped bawling, and was sucking her tongue like her life depended on it. Every so often, she would sniff woefully as if pondering the harsh realities of the world.
I cleaned her up, changed her bloody romper and breastfed for a while. Breast milk is the universal cure in baby land. It heals the body and soothes the mind.
A few minutes later, it was as if nothing happened. If I had come home just half an hour later, I would have been met with joy and laughter, instead of blood and tears – none the wiser.
Because Adoti seemed to have forgiven her nanny for ‘letting her fall’, I really had no choice but to follow suit. Besides, I still could not wrap my head around her offhand demeanour and nonchalant tone. I suppose she was trying not to add fuel to a raging fire.
I do believe however, that my studied silence spoke much louder than words.
Kids will be kids I guess. They will fall and injure themselves from time to time and as a parent, you just have to hold your heart and do what you can to put them back together again. This is the thing about parenthood; you have complete control over your child’s life but at the same time, you have no control at all.
There’s only so much you can do to ensure that your kid is safe. Much as you would love to, you cannot be everywhere all the time, and even if you were, accidents happen.
That’s a scary thing for a first-time Mum to acknowledge. Ah well, at least we’ve had our first fall. My heart nearly failed but I stayed strong. Hopefully, the accidents to come will be easier to handle. Please God, don’t let them be more than Mama can bear.