Forgive me. Oh brother. I have sinned. It’s one of lack of attention, but the severity of the misstep on my part doesn’t impact the result.
It was Friday. Stella and I were both showing signs of cabin fever. I had decided to take one more week of maternity leave and figured she could use the company of a little person since she wouldn’t be going to her nanny’s for a while yet. I called her nanny and her BFF to see if they wanted to come over for a little while, just so the smalls could have small company as could the grownups.
During my afternoon of rattling around, something possessed me to Google “how Brits make tea,” since I never keep stuff like sodas in the house to offer what little company we get. I had coffee, cheap tea bags, water, milk, and some hooch. Since it was 2 PM and Stella’s nanny was on her way to pick up her oldest kid from school, that wouldn’t be an appropriate choice. Also, Stella’s nanny and I have always loved all things British, arguing about which Sherlock character was the best: Sherlock himself or Moriarty (Note: I almost chose Moriarty as Felix’s middle name, but I totally digress). So, about 30 minutes before she was due, I put a boiler of water on. Normally I would have just microwaved a couple of mugs full of water and dunked tea bags in, but that’s not what Google prescribed. Shortly after it reached boil, I turned it off and left it on the stove to stay hot. We only ever use the back 2 burners of our cooktop to try to prevent accidents. I’m sure you can see where this is going.
Stella’s nanny arrived and the kids played while the nanny and I enjoyed a bit of non-cartoon-related conversation. I guess she had been there for 20 minutes or so. I happened to have my back to the kitchen and the nanny was kind of perpendicular. I was vaguely aware of Stella being in the kitchen and a scraping sound. Just as the nanny was asking if I was getting ready to cook something, I heard a bang and screaming. She is tall enough to reach the pot handle and pulled the cooling but still steaming water down on herself.
It was awful. I panicked. I had Felix in the Bjorn on my chest asleep and I remember starting to unbuckle that so that I could reach Stella. She screamed and rolled on the floor, clawing at herself. The water had hit her stomach, burning it and her bikini area. The nanny and I both had the idea of cold water/towels at the same time, but Stella wanted nothing to touch her. She alternated between wanting no contact to wanting to be picked up and cuddled which hurt her burns. An area on her diaper area blistered immediately, no doubt a second degree burn. The rest just turned angry, angry red. We tried to put her in a cold bath, but that freaked her out.
This was one of those things that just break your heart. You know how bad burns suck. I think it’s probably the worst wound pain out there from the every day garden variety accidents. To add to the fun, my kid HATES medicine of any kind. We got aloe on her, liberally, and I managed a couple of quick-dissolve Tylenol. The nanny Googled on her phone to see what, if anything, more we could do, but we were doing what was suggested. I called Will home immediately, knowing I’d need another adult for the afternoon for me just as much as for Stella. The nanny texted a while later suggesting lidocaine, which was brilliant. Will was dispatched immediately to the store. While Stella hates the spray stuff, it helped immediately.
She cried for about an hour straight and it broke my heart. Finally, she calmed down and other than trying to figure out some clothing issues due to the placement of the burn, she had an almost-normal evening. She played, sang, sat with Daddy, and ate. The night was worse. The medicine wore off and when she’d roll on her belly it would hurt. We were up a lot, particularly when you add Felix into the equation.
She’s almost back to normal now. Her belly is still a bit red and she has an area of very raw skin in an unfortunate place (unfortunate in that it’s not something you can just leave open to let it get air and heal better all day long). I still feel horrible about what happened.
I know it was an accident and that stuff like this happens all the time. But this happened on my watch to my kid. We’ve known for ages that she can reach anything she wants on the counter now given that she’s about 8’ tall. But honestly, I thought we had sorted the “don’t touch the stove thing” out. For eons, she’s talked about “hot” and made the sign for it. She’s never, ever gone near it before. I don’t know what was different about Friday. I don’t know why I didn’t just dump the damn water when the nanny said she didn’t want tea (or stick to the microwave American version, anyway).
I’m so grateful it wasn’t worse, that the water didn’t get her face or had been really boiling vs steaming. It’s exhausting to have to be so much on guard about everything in your home. Still, I’ve been sent a pretty powerful message that I’d better suck it up, drink some coffee, and do it.