Last Thursday, I found myself sitting in a chair across from my Miriam, my hair stylist, chatting her up as she snipped away at Chase’s ridiculously long locks. It had gotten to the point when I could no longer see his eyes, and most of his nose, so there we were. As she moved around to work on the front of his head, she stopped suddenly and asked Chase a very strange question:Did you cut your own hair?
He and I exchanged befuddled looks before he responded: Uh, no. It was the answer I expected as Chase is not one to take scissors to his head voluntarily. But I stood and walked over to him so that I could examine the source of her question. There on the top front section of his head, underneath a blanket of longer hair, was a bald spot the size of a half dollar, covered with tiny peach fuzz that was trying to grow back.
Miriam’s brow furrowed in concern and, being the nearest expert in random bald spots, she asked the next question which would not have come to me so quickly:Did you hit your head?
And there Chase confessed to our hair stylist what he had no intention of ever sharing with me. Last week, while I was in Oregon and he was at my father’s summer house, Chase dove into the pool “the wrong way” and hit his head on the bottom.
Miriam, still focused on the forensics of the mystery bald spot, asked something about whether he slid a little when he hit. But my mind was already off and sprinting down the anxiety track at world record speeds. It sounded something like this in my brain:What did you do after you hit your head? Did you tell anyone? Was it bleeding? Did it hurt? Did you black out? Did anyone look at it? Did you tell Pop-Pop? Did you tell Dad? Did you vomit? Does it hurt now? How hard does one have to hit their head to remove ALL the hair? Oh…and why the f—k doesn’t anyone tell the Mommy??!!!???
Some of those questions may or may not have been blurted out loud right there in the salon. Near as I can tell from his responses, he did ask for some ice about 20 minutes after the incident which my father gave him (without examining the head) and he told Dave on the phone that night. It sounded as if he exhibited no signs of a concussion – not that anyone knew to look for them. And it was a decision that everyone made independently NOT to share this experience with yours truly when I returned and asked if anything noteworthy occurred while I was gone. No conspiracy to cover it up. Just a mutual, unspoken agreement of silence.
One might argue that my classic
loco reaction concern was the primary driver of the cone of silence. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. Dave routinely leaves out information that he self-classifies as worrisome to me when I’m traveling and call to check in. It’s never anything truly awful, but what might but communicated to me as “one of the boys has a cold” may in reality be “one of the boys has a fever of 104 and needed a trip to the doctor.” I am on a need to know basis – and Dave determines that he doesn’t need me to know.
But you know what? I get it. If I were Dave or Chase in this scenario, I wouldn’t tell me either.
Over time, families develop a conventional wisdom about information sharing. For us, “Don’t tell Mom” is often invoked in matters of health and safety. “Don’t tell Dad” on the other hand is employed on economic issues, misplacement and destruction of pieces of technology, and early parole from punishments. And, to be fair, “Don’t tell the Kids” is used regularly when the probability of pulling off an exciting purchase, trip or event is under 99 percent.
These purposeful secrets are constructs derived from love and concern for one another and invoked only in matters of triviality. One might suggest that a near catastrophic dive into a pool is NOT trivial at all. And I don’t want to think about what could have transpired if the impact was more than it was. But rest assured, it turned out okay and it was definitely better that I didn’t know. I am glad for the bald spot though or else I may never have had the opportunity to explain ad nauseum the correct procedure for properly notifying an adult after a head injury.
We Moms live for those moments. And our children do because of them.