If you’ve ever wondered - like I have - if you could keep your shit together during some disaster, like a zombie apocalypse or a 2012 end of the world earthquake/tsunami/volcano/flood scenario, then you’ll enjoy where I’m coming from with this little story. After experiencing a few potentially disastrous situations, I’ve discovered something about myself that I’m kinda proud of, and that I hope will hold true should the disasters in question “scale up.”
This past weekend I was at Jekyll Island with the family, just taking a few days away from the city to celebrate Easter and get a much needed rest. Sunday evening I got kid duty, and I decided to take Madeleine, who’s just shy of 10, and Eli, who’s 5, to play putt putt golf. Eli fucking LOVES putt putt.
We played through a few holes, and somewhere around the 11th, I made the mistake of stepping into Eli’s backswing. Now, he’s a little guy, and you don’t need a lot of swing to make a golf ball putter toward a hole 20 feet away. Still, a golf club can be a formidable bludgeon, and even a little swing from a little guy can hurt. He hit me in the hand, and I jumped back and yelled. Eli was immediately scared because he hurt Daddy, but the pain was only momentary (nothing broken or even bruised - just a “warning” pop), and it was my fault for walking into his stroke, so I told him not to worry because Daddy had made the mistake, not him.
All was well. Then, on the 18th hole, MADELEINE walked into Eli’s backswing. She’s not as tall as me, so she didn’t get hit in the hand - she got clocked in the face.
And here’s where it happened.
You would not believe the amount of blood a blow to the face with a golf club will bring forth from a 10-year-old girl. Madeleine immediately started screaming – loud enough to draw a crowd, and loud enough to absolutely terrify her little brother.
Blood flowed through her screams. She held both hands to her face, and both of her palms filled with blood until they overflowed, so that within moments, blood was dropping in small puddles onto the walkway and the golf course. I knelt beside her, and as I worked to calm her and to check her out, blood flowed in rivers down MY hands and arms.
But somewhere in there, just as the fact that my daughter was hurt – potentially very badly - registered in my mind, and just as the blood began to gush, some part of me said to every other part of me: “Being afraid for her will not help her. Being conscious of all that blood will not make it stop. There are logical steps you must follow now as her father, and you must do them all while reassuring her and her brother that everything will be fine. Even if you have to go to the hospital in the next few minutes, you have to follow the steps to that end, and you have to do it calmly.”
I made the split second decision not to panic. Instead, I simply knelt beside her, ignored the blood, and looked into her mouth. I told her I needed to check her teeth to make sure they were intact. I touched each one near the place she’d been hit, looking for broken ones or loose ones. Someone brought me a stack of paper towels and I thanked them, then used the towels to wipe away blood and stop the bleeding. Then I looked for the hole which was causing all the blood.
As it turned out, her teeth were fine – she’d simply gashed the inside of her lip.
So there was never any need to panic. In fact, I worried more about Eli blaming himself than I did about Madeleine’s injury (I took care of that, too).
Still, even if there had been something worse – if Madeleine HAD shattered her teeth or needed stitches or something like that, I’m pretty sure I would have taken the same calm, logical approach. And this isn’t the first time I’ve had to go into myself and turn on the cool blue logic. I’ve watched my wife have two grand mal seizures - I simply moved her away from furniture and held her until she was done. I’ve seen a finger severed (not mine), seen a compound fracture as it happened (again, not me). Through it all, I remained calm. I was the one who called 911 and was able to get the injured person to a hospital. And I’m pretty sure I could do it again and again and again.
I only have two concerns. One is how I’d handle things were I the injured party - although I was pretty calm when I broke my jaw, and that hurt like a motherfucker. My other concern is how being half asleep or drunk might affect my ability to keep it cool.
Ultimately, though, I’m pretty pleased. I know how to keep my head.
Which could come in handy when that hidden meteor crashes into the Earth in December.