This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
Sunday was to be a lovely family day. It started with a children’s performance at the Kenton Theatre in Henley of ‘Charlie and Lola’. After the performance my son and daughter-in-law went on to another event, while I took both grandchildren (the Bionic three year old and the ten month crawler) back to my home for lunch.
I pushed the pram with the Bionic one on the boogie board – which is, for the uninitiated, a sort of attachment on which a child can stand, behind a pram. We set off happily over the sleeping policemen with precision, no wobbles, and lots of giggles. We got to the main road and made our way across the zebra crossing. The traffic stopped and I proceeded to cross the road. Somehow, I still don’t know quite how it happened, my foot must have hit the boogie board and, with that, I tripped and went sprawling, knocking my grandson forward. My grandson’s face hit the road with the most dreadful thud. Somehow in that split second as we were both falling I knew his face was going to hit the ground but I just couldn’t get my hand under his face in time to protect him.
I scrambled up and picked up the poor little soul. Blood was gushing from his mouth – at that actual moment of unmitigated horror, I could not see that he had lost teeth. All I could see was my beautiful grandson looking at me with his saucer blue eyes, with huge tears dripping onto his blood filled mouth.
I grabbed him and the pram and got myself back on to the pavement. All the cars had stopped of course. It was a zebra crossing and I was aware that people were offering me lifts, but I couldn’t take up their kind offers because I had the pram – and of course no car seats.
I couldn’t see into my grandson’s mouth, he was just clinging on to me crying and blood seemed to be everywhere. A kind chauffeur stopped, parked his car and got out his first aid pack and gave me some bandages. Someone else stopped and asked if I wanted to ring anyone. It’s strange when something like that happens, all you want to do is get home and assess the situation. I knew I needed to calm my little grandson so I could look in his mouth.. But I couldn’t hold the pram and carry him. I was also terribly worried about my son and daughter in law… how could I tell them. In hindsight, there were lots of things I probably should have done, but in the heat of this horrific moment all I wanted to do was get to somewhere calm and safe ie the sanctity of my own home.
A father and child came up to me. By this time I was just sitting on a wall trying to reassure my grandson and hold onto the pram. He offered to help and I said “I don’t live very far away could you possibly push the pram whilst I carry my grandson.” Bless him, he and his daughter Izzie (who was about five) pushed the pram all the way home. My grandson was clinging on to me , his mouth and lips were getting more and more swollen as I walked.
It is amazing how adrenalin kicks in. In normal circumstances I could never have carried him the distance that I did – I just kept thinking “get home” and then I can ring my daughter in law and son. But I wanted to get to a place of safety for my granddaughter too.
That lovely man and his daughter pushed the pram all the way home and, as I have steps, kindly lifted my little granddaughter out of her pram and brought her upstairs. “Thank you, thank you” I said ” I don’t even know your name.” “Rob” he said putting my
crawling granddaughter on the floor. I knew she was safe as I had done a thorough sweep of all things dangerous before going out. I turned to my darling little grandson. What a mess. At last I saw behind a very swollen lip what I had been dreading – there was a terrible gap where he had lost his teeth.
” I want my mummy “he said.
“Yes darling we are going to get her now.” I texted them both and tried to word my message without making it sound too bad. It was bad but I didn’t want them to do anything silly getting to me. Seconds later my D-I-L texted that she was on her way. Meanwhile my ten month old granddaughter was as good as gold – how is it that they sense something is wrong? Normally she is a little pickle and into everything – even more extraordinarily it was her lunch time but she didn’t utter a sound. My daughter in law arrived within five minutes and immediately asked me to get hold of my son. She had come by car and had come alone thinking the accident was relatively minor.
Running the half mile to my house – adrenalin again – my son managed to get to us in record time and we went straight to our cottage hospital and were seen immediately.
“Where are the teeth?” asked the nurse
“The teeth” I asked incredulously “I didn’t even think of them”
(It later transpired you can inhale them and cause all sorts of problems in your lungs)
It soon became clear that my grandson was going to need to be seen by a specialist. My son and D-I-L went to the John Radcliffe hospital and I was dropped off back at my home with my granddaughter.
Up until that moment it all seemed like a bad dream. I suppose you just keep going. Suddenly I was filled with the most awful guilt – how on earth could I have tripped? How stupid of me…am I getting old? Will my son and daughter in law think I’m incapable of looking after their kids? What about my grandson’s mouth? Should I have picked up the tooth? Was it still there? Will his teeth grow again? Has his jaw been damaged? Has he got dirt in his mouth? I absolutely adore my grandson and would do anything for him and now I have been responsible for this awful accident. I felt dreadful. Why hadn’t I been faster and taken the brunt of the fall? Why hadn’t I been able to save his face? It all goes through your head in horrible flashes.
I heard a squeak.I looked down and the crawler was smiling at me. My God she needs feeding, a nappy change and a sleep. No more time for negative regrets, I need to look after this little one to the best of my ability. With no high chair, I managed to feed her sitting on a button back velvet chair now decoratively covered in broccoli lentil and lamb. We then had yogurt… I say WE because she ate it and I wore it! Time for a nappy change: I didn’t dare put her on my bed as it’s very high off the ground and she moves like the wind and I certainly didn’t want her bouncing on her head. Nappy happily changed on the floor with me crawling after her and it was time for her nap. I know the only way for her to sleep during the day is either to be in the pushchair or the car. As I didn’t have her baby seat it was the push chair again.
Boogie board discarded I pushed the pram gingerly down the road, back to the zebra crossing. Perhaps the teeth will still be there?
And there, glistening in the sun, was a front tooth! No sign of the others. I picked it up triumphantly and texted my son … hoping and praying it could be reinserted. Something in my head was saying put it in milk so I whizzed down to where the literary festival was on and commandeered a small jug of milk into which I put the precious tooth. Then I got a text telling me a tooth can only be reinserted before an hour has elapsed.
The NHS turned up trumps – a maxillofacial consultant was finally found who checked out my grandson and said no operation was necessary and his next set of teeth should grow in at the normal time – three or four years hence.
I have had nightmares for the past two nights but I have to keep telling myself thank God it wasn’t worse. Meanwhile if any of you grannies are thinking of pushing children on those wretched boards please be careful … it isn’t worth the heartache.
Is my daughter in law still talking to me? Yes, because she is a sweet lovely girl, and I think she knows how dreadful I feel. Somehow it seems to be even worse when you are a granny – you feel physical pain for your children when they are hurt. But then when your children’s children are hurt… you hurt even more!
The end of the story is that the local Tooth Fairy has had to take out a mortgage! This week she has had four extra shifts. It goes without saying that she left something for my grandson’s three teeth. But guess what – she also remembered the kind little girl Izzie who helped push the pram back! Where would we be without fairies!