You know what really smooths off a nice trip to Yellowstone National Park – particularly one where my parenting skills were consistently under scrutiny and I think I may have failed on every level in my attempt to create a “happy family vacation”?
A severed finger.
Not mine. I’d prefer that, actually because I’m a selfless parent like that. No, it was my gorgeous little blonde 3-year-old who had just started doing really really well with that nightmare they call potty training (if you haven’t had kids yet: don’t. If you have, convince someone to start a potty training business already because I’ve had enough!). And what better way to reward a cute little boy who had just done an excellent job going potty in the run-down stall at String Lake in Grand Tetons Park than by smashing his teeny little nubbins in the stall door?
It was my fault. Which is probably why I balled like a baby when I saw the blood, the nail hanging from the skin, and the gruesome cut that looked like it stopped just short of taking the entire end of his finger. I grabbed a bunch of toilet paper and wrapped it around his little fingers while he screamed bloody murder, scooped him up in my arms and ran outside like a victim escaping a goddamn fire.
It probably wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be but guilt is a viscious motivator and I’d seen too many movies about the importance of putting things on ice to avoid amputation and poor children who were destined to be concert pianists before they lost a finger and kids who committed suicide because they were teased for their one short finger.
So I was necessarily in a panic. I blame Hollywood.
My husband and daughter had just driven off to find a parking spot and suddenly the whole area was empty. I kept running in different directions, then changing my mind and running back to go a different direction only to repeat the whole humiliating cycle because I had no idea how to make decisions in non-life-threatening-but-cinematically-devastating circumstances.
I finally found a woman who had a friend with a cell phone. And then a ranger finally showed up – both of which seemed to have a much better “finger” on the pulse of the situation (I can make jokes now because he’s in the ER with daddy getting stitches and I have nothing better to do), evidenced by their confusion at my tears and absolute lathargy with which they responded to my requests for health. I probably counted five or six seconds for that ranger to get the radio to her mouth to ask for an First Aid Kit.
Wait, a First Aid Kit?? Are you fucking kidding me?! My child is practically bleeding out!
Actually he didn’t lose much blood. A few drops maybe. But he may as well have been on the brink of death.
Needless to say, when my husband caught up with us (poor thing – crowd of Park Rangers next to a vehicle, son screaming, mommy crying – he thought our son had been hit by a car), I finally calmed down and we were able to properly evaluate the situation, get some gauze on him, and drive him to the hospital.
He’s going to be just fine. In fact, he’s just walked out of the operating room and excitedly exclaims:
(Lest you confuse this with an exclamation of adoration for Bieber, it translates to: “all better!”).