"Mom, how does the Tooth Fairy fly through the air?"
"How do YOU think?"
"I think moms do it."
"But how can a Mom be a Tooth Fairy?"
"Good moms are lots of things, Princess."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

When Your Child Goes Thump

Not long ago the girls were playing upstairs in their room while I sat on my Saturday butt downstairs. Don't judge. Anyway, I heard the gigantic thump that can only mean one thing: Peanut falling off her upper bunk. But then I heard something I had never heard before: Peanut wailing her way down the stairs. To me.

She curled up in my lap. I stroked her head and scratched her back and cooed over her and empathized about how much that must have hurt. And the whole time I have the "oh" feeling you get when you're holding something impossible delicate. Because it was.

Because this child has fallen off the same bed, hitting her head on the corner of a dresser on the way down, hitting the floor face down, and has gotten right up to run off to do something else. This child can be sitting on the chair one second, on the floor the next, and then back on the chair like nothing happened. This child has wailed like she was being drawn and quartered over a scraped knee, but seethed with nothing but blind rage at a real injury. This child is healing.

Two years ago we began to suspect something was really, really wrong. We were getting ready for dinner. I had the silverware drawer open, and I called the kids to the table. Peanut was sitting on the floor three feet away, and she stood up and headed in full run for the table. Unfortunately, the open drawer was in her way. She hit it with her face with such force that it knocked her backward onto the tile floor, where she lay in silence. Josh and I stared at her in horror for a moment before Josh scooped her up and took her to the sofa. That's when it all broke loose. Peanut screamed and screamed AT us with the coldest look I have ever seen in a child, screaming about how I should have closed the drawer. Not a tear. Just stone cold fury.

Right around this time I commented to the therapist that if she ever heard of a mysterious house fire with only a four-year-old survivor, she would know where to point a finger. She replied, "well, at least you recognized it now. Some parents wait until the hamsters are getting shut in the windows."

But Peanut now has about a year of really, really productive therapy under her belt, and her progress has been inspiring to watch. Peanut participates in pet therapy; Dr. S has a therapy dog, and Peanut has been learning to "train" him. There are indications that cruelty to animals is one of the earliest signs of psychopathic behavior. By learning empathy and affection for animals, unattached children can learn to transfer those feelings to the people in their lives. Peanut is a different child than she was six months ago.

With my attached children, I took those moments for granted, those times they came to me for comfort. With Peanut, each time is a gift that takes my breath away.


  1. Sounds like great progress.... shhh... don't tell her!

  2. I admit, I love it when my kids are sick and curl up in my lap and snuggle. My truly RAD son never gets sick. I think it's because he can't trust anyone to take care of him.

    Mary in TX