Tuesday, May 05, 2009

First Hurt

Tom burnt his hand on Saturday. Thankfully not badly but enough to raise some nasty blisters on his fingertips.

I suppose like a lot of toddlers he has an innate fascination with the kitchen – that strange, mostly adult place where food magically appears and noisy white machines go about their daily business.

We’ve tried to instill some safety awareness in him by showing him things and telling him “Ow! Hot!” and by and large this has worked a treat. He gives cups of tea wide berths and no longer attempts to conceal toys in the washing machine.

The oven however has long been a sticking point and Tom is now at that age (18 months) when being steered / chased away from certain objects seems a fun game of defiance. So it was only a matter of time before, adult eyes turned away literally for a split second, he’d sneak up on the damned thing and press his palms to the hot grill door.

The poor thing didn’t half cry and I had to remove his hand from the oven for him. Not because it was stuck – thankfully the oven wasn’t that hot – but because I don’t think he’d quite connected the pain with where he’d placed his hand. It didn’t occur to him to pull it away.

Of course Karen and I feel awful. Me especially as he’d snuck under my radar while my attention was elsewhere. But as parents you feel worst most of all because all the hugs and kisses in the world can’t make that kind of pain go away.

He howled for a good hour. He was obviously deeply shocked. Certainly by the degree of pain but also, I suspect, by the realization that the world can hurt him. Something that I don’t think had occurred to him before. It’s like a loss of innocence I suppose. The world isn’t just full of fun and wonder. It also harbours bad things.

Within a short space of time the blisters came up. A large one on his thumb and a couple of his fingertips. He doesn’t seem to be too bothered by them. I guess they’re doing their job and helping to protect / heal his skin. There won’t be any permanent scarring.

But Sunday, rather than try and play a game of tig with the oven he went of his own volition and sat in his chair in the living room and waited for his dinner to be served well out of harm’s way...

Another one of life’s lessons, I guess: all injuries come with steep learning curves.


Andrew Glazebrook said...

Our eldest daughter burnt her fingers on light bulb when she was just a baby, I'd actually place the lamp on the floor for some extra light while we shot some video of her crawling around, next thing she zips over and touches the bulb. I felt really bad afterwards for lifting the lamp down !! Still nothing too bad in terms of a burn but she cried for quite a while afterwards !!

Steve said...

Hi Andrew: yes I felt very guilty afterwards too - for not keeping a closer eye on him. But I also know it was bound to happen sooner or later and better this way I suppose with a very superficial injury. It could have been a lot worse and he'll now hopefully treat hot things with the respect they deserve. I just wish he could have learnt that lesson without all the pain and tears!

Anonymous said...

It breaks your heart doesn't it!
Seriously it hurts the parent on a much deeper level than it does the child and with small kids, basically it's ALWAYS our watch, so anything and everything that happens comes back to that split second's lapse of concentration.

Living in the realm of the relative rather than the absolute means there will be, at times, pain/fear/loss, and that in terms of life experience it is vital in shaping how we live and who we become, but I always wish there could be a later starting point, maybe an official start time, like 10, 20 or preferably 50.
I suppose that's why we never listened to our parents, we need to experience things for ourselves.

As someone who has touched the over once too many times, I feel your son's pain;(

The Sagittarian said...

Steve, I think some of the most important lessons in life are learnt with pain, tears and general gnashing of teeth! However, it's always yuk when one's crotchfruit gets hurt, we never like to see it even if its for their own good (eg various medical interventions). Look at it this way, you probably won't have to warn him about the oven again and the "Ow, hot" will work alot better! Hopefully Tom's wee mit will be feeling and looking much better by now, though (she adds hastily and genuinely so as not to be mistaken for some heartless cow). :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh Wonderful Steve!

How awful! Despite our best efforts as parents...things like this happen. Give Tom a kiss and hug from Aunt Sweet Cheeks please.

Love to your family.

I still think you are a great dad!

Steve said...

Thank you Missbehaving, like you I sometime wish toddlers could live in cosy safeness for ooh ten year or so and then have to learn life' lessons when they're better able to cope... but I guess life knows best. They cope pretty well now and Tom is just fine.

Amanda: you could never be mistaken for some heartless cow! I think some lessons are learnt hard for a reason and Tom hopefully will have a lot more respect for the oven now which will ultimately keep him a lot safer in future.

Sweet Cheeks: hugs and kiss duly delivered with thanks!

The Joined up Cook said...

You will remember this long after Tom.

My kids are adult now and I'm a Granda living through all those early lessons again.

One thing I've learnt is this; it is better that children do learn the hard way; within limits. At all ages they tend to insist on pushing whatevr boundary there is - safety included - and only really learn from making the mistakes themselves.

Sooner or later he would learn about 'hot' and it's better that he learn without doing too much damage. He obviously is a quick learner and that will stand him, and your nerves, in good stead.

As they get to the teens they will still insist on learning the hard way, learning by making their own mistakes.

It is the best way to learn. We've all done it - and still do it - ourselves.

All a parent can do is be there to pick up the pieces, at whatever age they are, and hopefully act as a damage limitation aid.

Steve said...

Wise words as always, AWB, and you are right of course. Within the space of a few hours Tom seemed to be over it - the pain that is - but seems to have retained an understanding with regards "ow! hot!" that will hopefully prevent worse accidents occurring. To add to his problems he's managed to get a splinter in his hand prior to the burn - and then of course got a blister over the top of it. We managed to successfully remove the splinter this morning and he was quite pragmatic about letting us get on with it and didn't make too much fuss. He's developed another understanding I suppose - some kinds of pain are negligible in comparison to others...

Matthew Rudd said...

My small nephew once badly scalded his hand on a radiator set to full heat. The radiator was in a hotel room the family had just checked into, set to full power despite a heatwave, so his parents were livid as well as upset.

Owen said...

Hi Steve, if I recall from reading the piece you wrote not long ago (the one that got us started about pirates), you also had an enlightening experience about losing innocence and learning that the world is indeed a dark and dangerous place... when you encountered that grain threshing machine that left you temporarily a quadruple amputee... I'm sure you must have howled for a while after that incident too, and you will be paying much closer attention when the parents say, "Ouch, threshing machine"... I was quite happy to see, (as I do not want to be mistaken either for an 'artless steer) from the photos of your hawking session, that apparently you have regenerative powers, as your limbs have obviously grown back. Children also have regenerative powers, thankfully, and many minor mishaps will be overcome, and learnt from...

PS Thanks for your comments, it's funny, I posted the poem and photo with the line about the hawk circling off over the horizon the night before I saw your piece about hawks... must be some two-way telepathy going on. Have a great day !

Steve said...

Hi Metthew, radiators in other people's houses or other buildings are always a nightmare - thankfully we've erected gates and guards around all of ours - part of our environment that we can control.

Owen, I'm keeping Tom well away from the combine harvester as I'd like him to retain full use of all his limbs, internal organs and eyeballs for the entirety of his life. I'll just have to stick with the old scythe. Watch your ankles guys...!

Anonymous said...

Steve:Aww poor wee Tom and poor you. I hate it when mine hurt themselves especially when I feel that I could or should have prevented it. But you can't watch them all the time and they do have to learn.
Some learn quicker than others though - one of mine is always doing daft stuff and injuring himself!!
Glad he is better now.

Steve said...

He's much better, Gina, and the blisters are beginning to go down. Although it was a horrible experience we're all beginning to see the positive in it and it could have easily been a lot worse... so glad it wasn't.

Tim Atkinson said...

Oh... There but for the grace of God etc. What is it about boys and kitchens? Charlie's obsessed! And the little so-and-so knows the oven isn't always 'ow - hot!' and grinningly goes up and touchs it whenever he can. One day, we'll be where you are, I know it.

Steve said...

Dotterel: if you ever do find yourself in our position hopefully the injuries will be just as superficial. The blisters are healing nicely now and Tom seems unaffected by the experience - aside from a new-found wariness of the oven which is certainly not a bad thing!

French Fancy... said...

Oh poor little boy. Fingertips hurt so bloody much, out of all proportion to the skin surface that has been affected - nerve endings I guess (sorry, not trying to make you feel bad)

I still remember putting my fingers into a two bar heater my parents had when I was little. I never did it again.

I'd be a nervous wreck as a parent I think - it's lucky I've just got dogs.

Steve said...

FF, the overriding lesson from this has been learnt I think - never take your eyes of Tom in the kitchen and for his part I've seen him treat the oven with a new respect which will serve him well for the rest of his life!