That was the week that was, well, the worst…

I haven’t been very active on the Sophie’s Voice social media platforms over the past couple of weeks. That’s due to a delightful little drama chez Sophie’s Voice Towers.

I always say I won’t talk about my kids – and then I end up doing so anyway. However today I’m going to start truthfully and declare that this is a post about home and the kids.

Last Monday night (more precisely at 1.18am on Tuesday), Child 2 fell out of her shared bunkbed. This could have been worse – but, luckily, her sister occupies the top shelf so at least we didn’t have to deal with any broken bones.I was staying overnight at the girls’ dad’s house and we were woken by loud screaming and found a blood covered 5 year old staggering around her room in a state of confusion. Actually I wasn’t woken then – apparently I can sleep through anything – but I did open my eyes a couple of seconds later when her father screamed. He had kissed her on the forehead – and realised that his lips were covered in a cold, wet substance. The substance was, you guessed it, blood.

We immediately suspected a nose bleed. In the ensuing panic I cleaned up her face and found that the bleeding had stopped but I saw that there was a small cut on her forehead. Admittedly I wasn’t at my best and (in my defense) the light wasn’t great – but I was smart enough to pay attention to the likelihood of concussion and to ‘dress’ the wound. I checked her response to light, whether she could focus on a moving object, if she understood conversation – then let her sleep with me all night. She was fine. She was animated. She wasn’t bleeding. She took her Calpol. Her headache was relieved within about 10 minutes.

My GP has open surgery twice a day – first thing in the morning and last thing in the afternoon. It’s a wonderful service if you have kids or a job. We took her straight in and pulled back wincing when what I then saw was an extremely unprofessional dressing was peeled away from her head. The cut was termed ‘a laceration’. Shit – should have gone to A&E. Except that the doctor said she’d done the same thing with her daughter. So far, so not too guilty feeling.

We were signposted to the local Walk-In Centre because they can do glue and/or stitches. They were not impressed that we had missed the ‘glue window’ – those mythical 6 hours when you can Pritt Stick a child’s facial features. Instead Child 2 was going to need…dun, dun, derrrr…stitches. That was the first time that anyone mentioned ‘the vanity triangle’. After that it was all downhill.

If you’re wondering what ‘the vanity triangle’ is, it’s the part of your face that goes from the top highest points either side of your forehead to the tip of your chin. That triangle is the part of your face that makes you recognisably ‘you’. It encompasses all the features that humans find easy to identify as belonging to each individual they experience during their lives. It contains all the bits and pieces that we notice changing. Everything outside of it can be adjusted without being noticeable. Everything in it reveals you to another human. It’s the reason we see nose jobs and skim over neck lifts. We’re really very shallow.

It transpired that none of the doctors working at the Walk-In on Tuesday morning wanted to take responsibility for what we will call ‘The Face’ for the remainder of this post. Instead she got a new, temporary dressing and a general cooing over. As per usual.

And then we were referred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. It’s a wonderful hospital, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that the fact that it’s such a wonderful hospital is kind of scary. Why would you need to take a kid with a glorified scratch to a world renowned children’s hospital? And, to add insult to injury, we had to be at its emergency plastic surgery clinic at 7.30am the following day.

After that I had had enough. I took Child 2 to school and almost threw her at her form teacher. There she was, once again, the centre of attention. Her dearest friends, Max(imoo) and Elizabeth (the infant school version of the sensible friend we all need at every age), told her she looked like a pirate. She was riding high on that accolade.

Her parents finally found the source of the injury. We sound crap but there was no long trail of blood. No, it turned out that Child 2 had fallen out of bed onto the only thing on the bedroom floor that wasn’t carpet – the Child of the Week badge that she won in January and that she was supposed to have returned to her headteacher. That she had assured us she had returned to her headteacher, in fact. I know, in the big scheme of things, that’s not important but I am still pissed off about that. Here’s a picture to prove that an aspiring jewel thief can have a successful academic career. Well, here’s the photo of said criminal apprentice before she decided to go bad – back when she was channeling her talents into maths puzzles and phonics.

That night went smoothly. She needed more Calpol before bed because she kept rolling onto the bump left by the collision with her trophy. Apart from that it was fine.

The journey to Alder Hey was a bit of an endurance race. Mainly because the passenger had so little confidence in my ability to navigate the 3.2 mile journey from doorstep to car park on time that she had to check every letter and number of the postcode as I entered them into the ‘Nav Sat’. Great. We arrived in good time – “well done, Mum – I didn’t think you had it in you” (fuck off, smartarse) – and found the emergency plastic surgery clinic. So far, so good. Then the drama commenced.

Nurse Michelle was the first person to see the patient and they bonded because they both ‘like to play with medical machines’. Then it was on to the surgeon. That’s when it all went to a place I never want to visit again. While my general child care post-accident was praised – and the surgeon was impressed by my emphasis on ‘possible head trauma’ (she only fell 8″, ffs), he was not pleased with my low-key attitude to the importance of the injury. I will say right now that there are two principal reasons for it: firstly, it would be a Harry Potter type scar – which is cool, right? – and, secondly, she has a fringe. Please don’t think that I model my parenting style on, say, Joan Crawford but I can be objective about my children’s facial features. And Child 2 is, sooner or later, going to come to understand that she has a forehead best suited to fringes. That’s not a bad thing – they make her look adorable. And they will cover up any scar incurred due to negligible parental negligence forever.

Mr Surgeon promptly declared my logic ‘ridiculous’ and then proceeded to explain the situation to my daughter – with the following dialogue.

Surgeon: who is your favourite Harry Potter character?

Child 2: Hermione

Surgeon: of course she is – she’s smart like you. Now, if you were Hermione, who would I be?

Child 2: Dumbledore

Surgeon: Yes, I would – but, if I was Harry’s Dumbledore, I could have hidden that scar from Voldemort. Don’t you think that might have helped him out when he was fighting the forces of dark magic?

Child 2: I never thought of that but yes, it would have. Take the scar away!

Then he gave the kid a stethoscope to play with, turned to me and said “you see this face?”. To which question I nodded – because of course I bloody did – and then delivered the following f*cking lecture – “I’ll ask you again…no, I’ll tell you – see this face. Just look at it for a minute. Take your time and think about what makes it different to other people’s faces. No? Let me tell you something interesting about it. I make twice as much money working one afternoon in private practice as I do working three days a week here – and I make that money giving women (yes, mainly) who can afford to pay me those rates the face you see here. Her face. Well, not her face now – but the face she would have grown up to have if she hadn’t cut her head open. You can’t see anything unusual here because you see it every single day but she has near perfect facial symmetry. If people who are sensible about surgery come to me, all they ask for is symmetrical facial features. They don’t – usually – but they should do. This, you understand, is nature working perfectly. I can’t leave it knowing that I can help to restore a masterpiece. I won’t. It would be unethical.”.

And that was that. It transpired that The Face takes a bit longer to render to its natural ‘standard’ than those of us mere mortals would. It takes precisely 2 hours and 20 fucking minutes to get 8 stitches right, actually. It would take 20-30 minutes usually. It also takes 2 anaesthetists, 3 surgical nurses and 2 surgeons. Trust me, people, if you’re just ‘normal’ don’t have surgery to give yourself ‘perfectly symmetrical facial features’. I imagine it would take weeks.

After that the week was a whirlwind of nodes stuck on heads; washing surgical cement out of hair; taking gifts of surgical masks, hats, suture repair kits, breathing masks and a shitload of other medical gubbins home with us after every visit to a medical professional and hearing all about Child 2’s new career aspirations.

Yes, thank God, she’s dropped the mic on her plans to become a master criminal. Now she’s studying to be a paediatric surgeon. Put your kids’ names on the list if you harbour ambitions to be the mother of a bride or bridegroom that is the other half of the forthcoming generation’s big power couple.

With all the brains of Hermione Granger, the guile of Debbie Ocean and her near perfect facial symmetry, is there any field this girl cannot conquer? You never know, she may discover that maths is her real love and take the reins at the IMF. She may conquer the next Roman Empire. She may be the first – foreign – female president of the United States. After all the job does mean being ‘the leader of the free world’ – whatever that may be when she comes to power.

But, whatever happens, I will never tell her that her face is the same one people fork out ridiculous sums of money to have. Let all her other gifts be her future and her fortune, I say.

And she can always wear a disguise if she gets another scar in the future. She makes a very good unicorn.

Seriously, though, it was terrifying and I cannot thank my colleagues and friends enough for all their support – taking the strain at work and offering my family and I love and moral support.

Even my estranged brother sent his best wishes to our little stuntperson. The text read ‘Classic injury, I have one of those scars. It’s at times like these i think of the great American philosopher Robert Knievel, when he said ‘Bones heal, pain is temporary, chicks dig scars, glory is forever’. Wise words she’ll be able to take comfort in i’m sure.’. And that’s the reason he doesn’t see the kids – but it was a nice effort.

I truly appreciate how lucky I am at the end of 10 shitty days and I bid you goodnight.

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