The Day El Came Home On His Own

I was reading my book in the room, when I heard El shouting, “open the door”. Thank goodness my bedroom door was open, if not I may not have heard him. When I looked out of the peephole, he was alone and I saw that he had climbed the gate to try to reach the doorbell. He was quite upset when I opened the door.

El and Gar had gone down earlier with their grandparents to play at our little estate. They were playing at the playground, and then the fitness corner. Apparently, Gar hit and pushed El, he lost his temper, and he ran away from them. His grandparents could not chase him in time.

Rare occasion when they are not fighting with each other

Rare occasion when they are not fighting with each other

I first thought that he was smart enough to come home on his own. He knew how to get home. My place is guarded and there are only about 600 households, mainly families. Many (older) children go down to play by themselves. I am not worried about safety, and there are occasions when I leave my door unlocked. However, it was only hours later, (my reaction time is pretty slow), then I realised the potential dangers.

The four-and-a-half-year-old had climbed up the gate, which had swung out, to try to press the doorbell. Right beside it would be a parapet, where there are no grills, and any slips would be disastrous. Thank goodness the doorbell was near the door, unlike the old doorbell that is near the parapet. I told him very sternly that he should not do that. His father demonstrated to him how climbing the gate was dangerous, which he had actually taught him not too long ago how to climb it to press the doorbell. Duh!

This is Singapore, and most parents are extremely concerned about their children’s safety. They keep an eye on them all the time. My parents were like that. I had never gone out with my friends until I was 12, and even then, it was only to a nearby coffee shop, just a few hundred metres away.

When I go to the playground with my children, I watch the younger one most of the time, because I know he will attempt some stunts and may just decide to jump off the from the spiral ladder.

There was a wave of fear not too long ago, when people posted on Facebook, how some strangers tried to snatch their children away. Hence, we generally keep a very close eye on our children. Even though our country has a very low crime rate, the police warn ‘low crime doesn’t mean no crime’. Even when I take El to the washroom and leave him outside the cubicles, I will constantly ask him questions to check that he is still there and has not run away. After all, we do hear of cases where criminals do unthinkable things to children in the washroom.

People I spoke to were divided on this issue. Friends were mainly worried about strangers snatching him away. Older relatives were totally shocked. However, I had one friend who is currently residing in Germany who said that if he knew his way, and it is a safe place, there should be no problem.

I feel we should teach children survival skills.

I feel we should let children gain independence.

I feel we should not molly-coddle them.

I feel we should teach them to protect themselves from danger.

My friend brought up a very good point, which should be the main point of discussion. The main thing here is how El should handle the situation, when his younger brother makes him angry. It is important to tell him that it is okay to be angry, but he should not take rash actions.

He was scolded by his grandparents for running away.

The bottom line is I should be glad that this overly cautious boy knows how to come home on his own. He should handle his emotions better, and not run off without telling anybody, because his current reckless nature has caused him to run into a railing which caused him to get six stitches on his forehead two days later.

Reading To Gar At Night

I had been the lazy mum when it came to Gar, so starting from July, I decided to make a more conscious effort to read to him. Now that he is able to say a few more words, I feel that he is more interested in books now.

We borrow a lot of books from the nearby library, and he enjoys reading them. Sometimes he chooses the books himself.

reading at the library

I had read Pipi Gou (Dog) to Gar recently. I love these books as the dog is 2 years old too, and is facing similar issues, such as toilet training, riding a bike, fear of strangers, eating and so on. They were useful to El when he was younger. I managed to buy them at $1 per book at the bus interchange from a vendor from China. Unfortunately, I have not seen him in years.

Other new books that I had bought are bilingual books with cartoon characters, such as Plane and Monster Inc. I read the Mandarin version to him, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

A book I had just read to him today was a non-fiction book on Sabre-Tooth Tigers, although the title was Sabre-Tooth Cat. He enjoyed it very much and asked me to read it twice. He even pointed to his tiger costume in the cupboard.

gar tiger

He enjoys reading Eric Carle. I had met a book vendor when I was pregnant with El, and he introduced many good children’s books to me.

reading with gar

Sometimes, after reading the books, I will play with foam letters. Gar is able to recognise most of the letters, and he knows the phonic sounds too as I use zoophonics to teach him. The foam letters are more tactile, so I do word blend with him. He will try to match the sounds to the zoophonics alphabet chart when I pass him the letters. I have been trying to spell his name, and hope he can recognise his own name.

Now that he is slightly more verbal, I am getting him to repeat the words after me as I read the book to him. He is doing a good job so far.

I must also thank my helper who reads to him frequently.

Mr Bump – El Gets Stitches

It was another visit to the emergency room of KKH. I was flat out on the sofa at 9pm, when my husband called me saying El had fallen down near the swimming pool area on the way to the carpark. He was bleeding profusely and needed to go to the hospital for stitches. I quickly changed and grabbed my bag. When I went down, I saw my husband’s shirt near the arm pit area drenched with blood, and a subdued El, pressing his forehead with a hanky and a tissue and lying in his father’s arms.

Apparently, he was trying to play hide and seek with his father and grandmother. He had run to the reading room at the club house, and when he saw them coming, he ran towards the gym, and somehow tripped and crashed into a pillar. At first, they thought he had scratches on his face, but then they realised that blood was spewing from the top right corner of his forehead. He was howling in pain.

They quickly brought him to the 24-h clinic just opposite our place, but the doctor said he did not have anaesthesia for the required stitches. The gauze he tried to put on his forehead dropped off as the tape was on the hair, which by then was wet with sweat.

When I received the call, I went down, and saw the poor boy. I did not know whether he had a concussion, so I asked him lots of questions about dinosaurs.

“What type of tyrannosaur was Rodney?” I asked him about one of Dinosaur Train’s episodes.

He replied in a feeble voice, saying it was the raptorex, with some feathers, probably wondering why I did not know those simple facts.

I mentioned that I had a tiny lizard running around my wardrobe, and then he started spouting multi-syllabic animals which I had not heard of, until he told me they were tiny reptiles that lived during the dinosaur age. I really do need to know the difference between pterosaur and dinosaur.

Next, I tried to prep him on what would take place at the hospital, so that he would remain calm. First the nurse would check on him. Then the doctor would examine him, and then stitch him up.

The bleeding had more or less stopped, and I saw the big open wound. Thank goodness it was very near the hairline, so it could probably be covered by hair.

When we reached the hospital, we waited for at least twenty minutes before the nurses tended to us. A boy’s family demanded that he be attended to before his turn was up, as he had an open wound too. The nurse said the bleeding would have stopped by now, but they were pretty insistent. The rotund boy was about 10 years old or older, and they carried him in their arms. When the nurse opened up the gauze, I saw a 5cm long vertical wound in the middle of his forehead, just like Erlang Diety, the one with a third magical eye. She then wrapped his head. I overheard the nurse saying all the doctors were trained. They were probably trying to get the best doctor or something.

We sat there, staring at them, thinking our son also had an open wound, but we decided to continue waiting as there were just a few more before our number. A man with a child in his arm saw El, and asked whether we wanted an ice pack, as he had some in his car. He probably thought El had a bump. I politely declined.

I had been coughing for a month, and around me, many other adults were coughing too. It was the same type of phlegmy cough.

When it was El’s turn, the nurse asked a few questions. She took his blood pressure and monitored his oxygen level. Then, she cleaned his wound and put gauze on his forehead. He was not allowed to eat or drink anything. She passed me a pamphlet about head injuries. Point number 7 mentioned wearing appropriate shoes. He was wearing crocs. These shoes should be banned.

I went to register him. My handphone battery was totally flat, just like my energy level, and my husband’s handphone’s battery was down to 14%. I hoped we did not have to wait too long and needed to wait for a phone call.

We waited a while in the waiting room. I never liked waiting there, because there were many people who were sick. The last time we were here, we headed straight to Room 11 because of breathing issues.

Soon, it was our turn. The doctor asked him what had happened. She did not measure his weight, so I just said he was 14 kg plus. She said he looked all right. She whispered about stitches to me, but I had already told him about it. She told him that they would put something cold, like ice cream on his forehead.

We waited at the treatment area, and there were many people there. A girl, about the same age as El, had a cut on the back of her head. It would be covered by her hair. I think they just put some glue or gel on her head, but she was not supposed to wash her hair for three days. Sometimes doctors would speak to children in a different manner, and this doctor put on a cartoon voice to speak to the girl in Mandarin. I was a little bemused. We had met a few female doctors and dentist who would do that, and he would be unsure how to respond to them.

Later on, they finally applied the anaesthesia on his head. He cried when they put that on him. Then, they wrapped his head up, like Mr Bump from the Mr Men. We had to wait 30 minutes outside Room 15, but it might take longer because the other boy required stitches too.

Mr Bump

El was game enough to pose for a picture, but it was super unclear. He could not open his eyes fully.

We waited outside near the driveway. I tried to talk to El about the stitches. He had watched World Cup. I asked him whether he remembered the Germany vs Argentina finals. Of course he did. I asked him whether he remembered a German player (Schweinsteiger) who had stitches on his face because he was bleeding? He was very brave to go back to play. That meant it was not so painful after all.

Immediately, El started frowning and became visibly upset because he hated Germany, my favourite team. He was supporting Argentina. He said he did not want stitches anymore. Alamak, I tried to divert his attention. He wanted to scratch his wound, but I told him he could not. He should pretend to scratch the area instead.

Then, he was very bothered by a bump on his palm. He wanted to peel the thing. I suddenly saw red bumps on his palms! Shucks! There was a warning about HFMD case in his kindergarten class. Apparently his doctor he had seen on Saturday spotted an ulcer on his tongue, but said he was not HFMD.

After half an hour was up, we went into the waiting room. It was not our turn yet. After some time, they called that boy in. Someone carried him into the room. Then after that, his parents, grandmother and another lady came out. They waited anxiously there. I said most likely we would not be able to stay with him. That was when I noticed that one of them did not wear shoes. I was not sure whether she was a helper or an aunt.

I watched a video about HFMD. It was worrying. El watched some cockroach cartoon.

A little boy stood near my husband and started crying. He kept digging his mouth and could not tell us where his parents were. I spotted a nurse and told him about this lost boy. He would come back in a moment once he put down his things.

A man who was seated near us struck up a conversation with us. He said his son had an open wound when he was only 10 months old. One parent remained with him when they were stitching. The boy had memories of the place, so whenever he came back, he would say he did not want to go to that room. The man was alone with two children. The boy had fever. His wife was still working.

While talking, I forgot about the boy, and the boy was gone. I guessed the nurse must have returned for him. Later, I saw him bring him to a room.

Finally, it was our turn. The other boy had his stitches, and his mother came to get a wheelchair for him.

We took El in. He followed instructions, and we lifted him onto the surgery table. Immediately they strapped him in, and asked us to wait outside. I guess it was better so that we would not get too worried. I asked whether they would do cosmetic stitches, but the doctor said even if it were a plastic surgeon, there would still be a scar. In addition, the wound could be covered by his hair.

It was a tough wait outside. I kept hearing cries, but my husband said they came from the treatment area. The room was pretty sound proof. Finally, El came out. The doctor said he was very brave. He did not cry at all. Phew!

photo (12)

Then, I asked the doctor to check his hands for HFMD. She checked and said it was. Oh no. She took us back to her room, and checked his mouth. There was nothing in his mouth. However she extended his MC. He could have gone back to school if he did not have HFMD.

We then went to the pharmacy. The family with the boy and girl were there, and they looked happy to see us. But we told the father we had to keep our distance because of El. It was pretty fast before we got our medicine.

El was famished, so we went up to the minimart upstairs to buy some food. He wanted a pizza roll, so we bought two and heated them up. He finished one in the car. He started complaining about pain in his wound. The anaesthesia was wearing off. By the time we reached home, it was 1 am. I quickly gave him paracetemol. He managed to sleep almost right away.

What a night.

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