Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Danger to Himself and Others

I do not know what is going on with this kid.

Twice in the last month, I've found myself walking around, whispering to myself, "He's okay. He's okay."

A dresser fell on him. He was okay, but a dresser fell on him. I left Oliver alone in his room for a minute. I've done this a hundred times before. He had the top drawer of my dresser open and he had a Lego block he was pressing on the side of it, like playing Tetris, trying to fit the block into the crack. I left for a minute to get something, and as I walked away, I saw in my head the dresser falling over, him pinned underneath.

I see images like this all the time. I'm constantly afraid of what he might do to himself, but I've tried to keep those visions batted down because otherwise I'll just make myself crazy. 99% of the time, I'm just being paranoid, imagining the worst possible thing that could happen to him.

But a minute later, I heard a crash. And I heard him say, "Ow. Daddy." He said it once, like a request, and then he hollered, "DADDY!!"

We both ran down the hall.

The dresser was tipped over at a 45-degree angle, every drawer popped out. Everything on top had fallen off, somehow missing him. One of the drawers was on top of his leg, and he was calling for help. I moved the dresser, Mrs. B pulled him out and inspected him for damage. Miraculously - and I mean that truly - he was not hurt. No bones were broken, not even a bump on the head. He got some splinters in one of his hands from trying to catch the dresser, but that's all.

(We found out that he was reaching for a box of pictures that we keep on top of the dresser. That's what tipped it over. )


Just last week, he poked himself in the eye with a broom. He's okay, but he popped himself right in the eye, hard. And no, it wasn't the bristle end of the broom, it was the stick end.

I don't know what he was doing, but it didn't surprise me he was playing with the broom. He has loved playing with our broom for years now. It's one of his favorite toys. Occasionally, for a lark, he tries to actually sweep with it. But it serves so many other purposes: as a bridge between footstools, as a stick that he can jump over, as a club that he can wave around and look menacing, as a poker that he can use to tip blocks over, and so many more purposes. It's a broom! It's like the supertoy for the 21st generation!

I think that he had it sticking horizontally out of the footstool. I don't know why, but it was there, about two feet off the ground, sticking out like an invitation. And of course, he tripped, and of course, he fell with his face hurtling toward the footstool, and of course, he pushed the end of the broom right into his left eye.

He cried forever, both eyes wedged shut, tears flooding out, his face red as a beet. Eventually, he opened his left eye again, and we checked for damage. No bleeding, no bruises. His pupil wasn't dilated. We asked him if he could see out of it, and he could. But we were both spooked, and so we called the triage nurse at the hospital. She told me about the basic symptoms to watch out, had me do a couple of basic checks to make sure he hadn't broken the orbital bone that surrounds his eye. (Thank goodness, he hadn't.) He got lucky. Didn't even end up with a black eye.


There's more that he's done. He trips constantly, stumbles over the flotsam and jetsam that covers our floor. He climbs onto stools that he should. not. be. on. and then tries to reach for things way above his head. We were going to catch the water taxi last week - it was a bit of a rainy day - and he slipped walking down the ramp. He slipped and fell twice. And if I hadn't been holding his hand, he would have gone flying down the ramp right into Puget Sound.

He tries to stand with both feet in his wagon, which is just a recipe for a broken nose.

Once, he tried to put our big red balance ball on the bed and then climb on top of it. I stopped him, frantically.

Here's what I think is going on. First of all, I'm going to say that there is a four-year-old developmental step that is massive and monumental, because he always goes to hell right before a developmental step. He's also very emotional and very clingy and melts down at the drop of a hat, which also seem like indicators of a massive development step about to happen.

The second thing is that he's physically growing. One of my friends put it well - it's the physical version of stuttering right before he takes a big leap in his verbal skills. His body is stuttering. He's clumsy right now because he's trying to get used to his new size and his new strength.

That's the best I can guess. I don't know. Really, it's exhausting right now trying to keep him safe, because it feels like he's trying so hard to keep himself unsafe.

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