the trauma underneath
A few days ago this little lady fell down and scraped her knee. That should be the whole story there. Short and sweet and not very noteworthy.
But that wasn’t what happened. She came running inside and sat on my lap and we got it cleaned up and she was crying and laughing at the whole process. I put a band-aid on it and asked if she wanted to have a moment inside or go back outside. She chose a moment inside and climbed up on the couch.
Then she had a meltdown.
She kept crying and crying. I should really say she was sobbing because she was. And she was inconsolable. This was not like her at all. It took her the better part of an hour to calm down.
If this had happened out and about and you saw her fall and scrape her knee and have a full blown hour long cry fest over it – you would probably think to yourself, “Woah sister, that is some overreaction to a scraped knee.” I would probably think that too.
I did think that for a little bit while it was happening.
But then I actually listened to what she was crying out
“I just can’t stop crying!”
“I can’t help it!”
“It’s never going to be better!”
Not that she was in pain, though I am sure it was stinging. It was just like a sneaker wave on the beach swept her out in agony over the fact that she had a scrape and it was never going to get better.
You see, at the beginning of May, she got really sick. So sick she was transported via ambulance to a town 2 hours north to a children’s hospital and spent six days in the hospital. She had labs done every day we were there. She had an IV on her right hand that pumped mega doses of antibiotics into her system that gave her severe stomach troubles. She had a few doses of steroids that made her super angry and irritable. She ended up having to have surgery.
My husband and I were with her but she was not able to see her brothers due to flu restrictions on that specific hospital floor requiring visitors to be 18 years old or older. She would lay on her hospital bed and cry in pain before the doctors and nurses got her pain under control. Then later she laid on the hospital bed and cried that she was never going to be able to go home.
Spending six days in the hospital ending in having an unplanned surgery is a lot for an adult to process.
It was very confusing for a 4-year-old to understand. She thought she would never get to leave. She thought she’d never be going home. She thought she would never feel better.
The trauma of that experience resurfaced a few days ago when she fell and scraped her knee.
And that’s the thing – we never know what trauma is under the surface of other people.
Maybe we are out an about and we see a kid at the grocery store having a meltdown over choosing a box of cereal.
Maybe what we don’t know is that that child was just at the hospital with his mom visiting his sick grandparent and now standing next to a wall with a million cereal choices is overwhelming.
Maybe that kiddo just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
Maybe that kiddo is testing boundaries he wants fruit loops like his life depends on it and the mom said no.
Maybe that kiddo is learning new words from his parents like separation and custody and divorce.
Maybe that kiddo is adjusting to a new foster home.
Maybe that kiddo just came from their umpteenth doctor’s appointment and is sick and tired of being sick and tired.
We just don’t know.
Because if you saw my daughter fall and scrape her knee and have it take her an hour to calm down, I’m pretty sure you’d think to your self, “Woah sister, that is some overreaction to a scraped knee.”
Because I thought that at first too.
Until I realized what she was remembering.
Gives me pause to think about my random, momentary, shoulder bumping into life interactions with strangers. Maybe it will for you as well.
We just don’t know what trauma is underneath.