It wasn’t until after she fell that I told her, “Caroline, don’t play tag on the scooters. Someone’s going to get hurt,” in my best all-knowing, preachy parent voice. My advice was useful in what Dave and I call a classic way—like when one of us comes into the kitchen saying, “Can I help?” after the other has washed all of the dishes.
Caroline looked up at me with compliance from her position on the driveway, which was slick with new rain, until the pain registered on her face and she let out a howl.
Mollie was over with her two kids—she’s moving (damn her), so we were having a send-off dinner and just a quick post-popsicle scooter ride.
All I saw was a scrape and some blood. I didn’t say it out loud but was thinking to myself, Geez, Caroline’s being a little dramatic. Must be showing off a bit for the company.
Caroline’s fear of hydrogen peroxide is palpable —“Don’t use the fizzy stuff!” She was screaming so earnestly that I made the executive decision to avoid that battle; instead, I soaked her foot in a soapy tub of water. It’s odd to see cuts on both sides of the pinkie toe, I thought but moved on. At bedtime, Caroline kept squinching her face and squeezing my hand really, really hard.
She must be tired, I thought.
A swig of kids’ Tylenol, a hug, a kiss, a nose-rub. Night-night.
If I’d been in a movie, which I was imagining myself to be at 11:14 that night, viewers would have seen me crouching by my daughter’s bedside, holding a cotton ball saturated with hydrogen peroxide. I was playing the part of a mad-scientist, delirious with satisfaction as I watched the fizzy stuff whiten and bubble over Caroline’s sleeping foot. She moved slightly and I smiled as I re-applied the fizzy stuff, again, and once again. She did not wake up. No noise but the crackling whisper of dying bacteria.
I slept well that night.
Caroline awoke with a pinkie toe twice its normal size, blue, and black all over.