Yesterday there was another incident. I say “another” because it’s probably the fourth or fifth incident report involving our little girl. Most of these incidents – well, all of them, really – have been so minor that I hardly consider them worth noticing. Don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled that our daycare is so vigilant, and I would never want them to slide towards the negligible side. But some of the incident reports have involved “injuries” that have healed by the time we’ve arrived to pick her up.
Yesterday’s incident, however, was not as minor as the previous ones. During “music time” yesterday morning, one of our little girl’s peers was tasked with playing percussion with a shaker rattle. Caught up in the spirit of the rhythm, this little one became overly exuberant in shaking said shaker and whacked our little girl in the forehead. This resulted in a pump knot and much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Ice was applied, TLC was administered, and our wounded baby was put on watch in case she showed any signs of concussion or fracture. (Again, I do appreciate the vigilance, but that possibility seemed a tad unlikely.) The daycare called my spouse, who then called me since I was the one picking her up. By the time I got there, the pump knot had dissolved into a thumbprint-sized bruise, like a dirty blue smudge on her forehead half an inch above her right eye.
She was in fantastic spirits when I arrived. She was playing with a toy lawnmower, pushing it across the carpet on her knees. When she saw me enter the room, she burst into an exuberant smile, quickly abandoned the mower, and began hoofing it across the room towards me. She giggled and cooed on the ride home, ate her dinner applesauce with enthusiasm, and played happily with her toys before bedtime. There was no indication that she was hurt or feeling any less than her usual boisterous self, despite what any bruise on her head might have to say. Her mood was just as sunny this morning, even though the bruise had not faded at all overnight.
As I told my spouse on the phone when she conveyed the incident report to me, kids are resilient. Whenever our little one gets a rash or gets a chapped spot, the application of lotion or ointment sees the irritation gone within hours. Once, while learning to sit up, she lost her balance and careened backward, smacking the back of her head against the floor (which was carpeted, but thinly). She screamed bloody hell for about twenty seconds, but after being scooped up into my arms she seemed to forget the pain and indignity and was back to exploring the dynamics of bodily balance within three minutes. Little children recover quickly.
I know that this is in part due to the rapid pace of growth and physical development that their bodies are undergoing. “Growing like a weed” is an appropriate idiom for describing a child’s development, and I’ve certainly witnessed that with our own beautiful daughter. Her hair is longer and thicker, she grows new fingernails overnight, and she’s definitely heavier than she was a few weeks ago. I look at pictures of her at Thanksgiving, just three months ago, and I hardly recognize her. On a purely cellular level, I imagine that she is a completely different person than she was when she was born, perhaps even twice or more. Her body is so rapidly producing new cells, growing and changing all the time, that all the cells she was born with have now been replaced with stronger cells. I admire and even envy the rapid efficiency with which her body heals and grows. When she gets a scratch, it’s gone in twenty-four hours; when I get a scratch, I have to keep Neosporin on it for a week.
Becoming a parent has taught me a million things, but what I’ve pondered in the past day after our little girl’s most recent incident is how amazing the human body is. Truthfully, the fact that our bodies can heal themselves at all is nothing short of a miracle. In my line of work, I hear people express desire for “miraculous” healing, which to them means a complete recovery from the brink of a major life-threatening illness. But watching a chapped cheek on my sweet little girl’s face heal within a few hours of drying and moisturizing reminds me that it is a miracle that our bodies have the capacity to heal at all. The fact that a pump knot was reduced to a mild bruise within five hours – that’s a miracle. The fact that this little creature that couldn’t sit up on her own three months ago can now scoot from room to room and pull herself to a standing position on her own – that’s a miracle.
And you know what else is a miracle? That grown adults could even produce such a creature. I was blessed to be present with my spouse during the childbirth process, and I fell in love with her all over again because, damn! I know my body can’t do anything that amazing, and if it tried, I wouldn’t have handled it with nearly the grace and courage that she did. And breastfeeding? Also a miracle. The healing connective power of loving physical touch? A miracle. The human body is a rather beautiful thing.
But not just the human body. The human spirit is pretty amazing, too. My beautiful little girl didn’t have her day ruined despite being whopped in the head with a shaker. Her spirit is resilient, too; far more than mine is. I envy her that, too: the gift of quick recovery from the sudden setbacks and pitfalls of being a beginner in this corporeal world. But that’s something I think I have control over. I don’t think I can will my body to physically heal as fast as my little girl’s; I’m not throwing away my Neosporin. But I do think I can emulate her playful, exuberant spirit. Yes, I realize her worldview is much simpler than mine from a developmental standpoint. That’s fine; I don’t want to relinquish my capacity for abstract, complex thought – just my need to ruminate on negative events.
Our lives will be filled with many more incident reports, I’m sure. But I trust in my faith in miracles. Not the gigantic TV-preacher-style miracles, but rather the small and simple miracles of the amazing capacities of the human being to heal, grow, and recover. God bless my miraculous little girl for keeping my spirit open to my own miraculous self.