Do you ever have those days where you wish you could, like, hire a spare Mum?
Or maybe keep one in the cupboard with the vacuum cleaner and winter coats. So you could pull it out when it all got a bit much, and you could relax, safe in the knowledge that a grown-up, professional Mum was in charge?
Despite my child being 15 there are still days when I very much realise that I am 100 percent winging it, and have no clue what I’m doing.
Certainly it’s how I felt last Thursday when I picked up Flea from a hockey camp. We’d gone to Newcastle for a two day coaching event and on the first day, Flea had asked to play outfield.
When I went to pick her up at 4pm, Flea walked very slowly from the far pitch. She seemed tired and sluggish, but isn’t that just teens, sometimes? As we walked to the car, though, I thought she was walking oddly.
“Did you twist your ankle?”
“You’re walking funny.”
“I did hit my head though.”
It turned out Flea had been hit in the head with a hockey stick during a game. She said it hadn’t hurt much in the moment but she had a headache now. She couldn’t really remember when, or who hit her.
I marched over to the coaches to ask why I hadn’t been told about this, only to find that Flea hadn’t told anyone she’d been hit. They thought she’d seemed fine.
This isn’t the first time Flea’s taken a blow to the head during hockey. Back in her last year of primary school she was hit in the head with a hockey ball. THIS is why I was so pleased she became a goalkeeper!
By the time we got to our overnight accommodation, it was obvious she wasn’t fine. Flea couldn’t get out of the car. As in, she couldn’t seem to muster the coordination needed to get her legs out of the vehicle, and stand up. She started giggling uncontrollably, then crying.
“Get back in the car. We’re going to A&E.”
I find going to A&E with my child scary at the best of times, but during a pandemic it was extra terrifying. We were sent to children’s A&E where they did the usual head injury checks. I’ve seen these done lots of times before, but I’ve never seen anyone not pass them.
Flea couldn’t touch her finger to her nose. She couldn’t touch her finger to the doctor’s finger.
She couldn’t walk across the room, toe to heel, without stumbling.
When she tried to stand still with her eyes closed, she swayed like a drunken sailor.
When she tried to look up, her head hurt.
I sort of wanted to cry. And I definitely wanted to pull a grown-up, professional Mum out of the car boot to act like a responsible grown-up on my behalf. Because honestly, all I wanted to do was give Flea a big cuddle and then go and set some hockey coaches on fire. It’s not fair or logical, but that’s 100 percent how I felt.
After a fairly comprehensive set of checks the verdict was that Flea definitely had a concussion but her symptoms were almost certainly due to concussion rather than anything more serious like a bleed on the brain.
The advice was to go home and take it easy. The doctor said Flea might feel better in a day or two, but it could take a week or more. The best thing she could do was to rest, and let her battered head heal itself.
This meant no school, no screens, no video games or mobile phones. No sports for a minimum of 7 days. Just resting, plenty of fluids and no exertion.
We came home right away, and Flea spent 48 hours on the sofa. But trying to keep a teen away from video games and her phone? It’s turning me into a covert surveillance officer. She’s endlessly trying to sneak her phone, I’m endlessly confiscating it. At one point my child spontaneously cuddled me on the sofa, only to try and sneak her phone back out of my pocket.
After three days of this, I decided a screen-free change of scene was in order. Flea was feeling a lot better, just weak and with a lingering headache. So I figured some fresh air and light paddling wouldn’t hurt, if we took the kayaks up to Ullswater.
As it turned out this was a great plan. The weather was amazing and the water was clear and smooth. Flea really just pootled around on the water for an hour, before returning to the shore. We sat and ate lunch of crackers and cheese, with a flask of tea and it was perfect. She was very tired when we got home and slept for about 20 hours straight, which I hope means she’s healing.
It’s definitely not quite the way I wanted August to finish, but I’m counting my blessings that Flea’s injury wasn’t worse, and hopefully she’ll be back to normal and back at school in a few days.