What I learned from burning my baby

Dramatic post title?  Maybe.  But not nearly as traumatic as the real life experience, in my humble opinion.  Speaking of which, I don’t believe it is possible to have a humble opinion?  But I digress…

A few weeks ago, I made some mediocre black bean soup for my family.  As is usually the case since we got to Guatemala, dinner was running late; everyone was hungry.  I was anxious to get it served, so it went from boiling in the InstantPot to the table for serving.  Or at least that was what was supposed to happen.  What actually happened wasn’t nearly as tame and boring.

We don’t have any hot pads, so I used a dish towel to transport the hot pot to the counter.  And somehow in my attempt to put it down, I lost my grip and it spilled across the counter onto Jonah who was sitting on a stool waiting to eat.  I can still replay that moment in my head if I want to.  It was terrible!  As soon as it sunk in that boiling hot soup had just been spilled all over my baby, I started saying “No! No! No!”  Luckily Terry keeps his head better than I do.  He grabbed Jonah off the stool, put him on the ground, and yanked his shorts off.  I had come around the counter, grabbed him, and we ran him to the sink to run cold water over his legs.  Of course, he is crying this whole time saying, “Ow!  It hurts.  Stop; it hurts!” and wanting us to let him go.  Right away, part of his skin began to pull away from his body.  We were naively hoping it would be a first degree burn, but as soon as I looked it up I knew we were well past that.  And we needed help.

Terry called a friend who lives nearby, and her husband quickly came over to go with Terry to the medical clinic so he could be the translator.  It didn’t seem that they were gone very long; and when they got back Jonah was calm, had medicine on his leg, and just wanted to be held.  It was not the way we had planned to spend our Monday evening.

Yes, it was a bad evening; yes, Jonah really hated the pain of being burned, and the whole family was anxiously worried over him.  But what lesson did I learn from this event?

That it is possible to relive an event over and over and over.

I had read this in multiple places, and it made sense; but I don’t think I fully appreciated the teaching until this occurred.

After the first night, and unless we were cleaning his wounds and reapplying the medicine, Jonah was completely fine.  He was the same active little boy.  A week after it happened, he even said he was grateful for his burns in our evening family prayers.  It was like nothing ever happened.

Not so for me.

Every time I would see his leg, I would relive the moment of spilling the soup.  I tried to find a way to put the pot down without dropping it.

I thought about how earlier in the day while getting him dressed I was impressed to put jeans on him but had opted for the easier shorts. (Miri had been spilled on as well, but she was wearing jeans so all she felt was a little bit of heat)

I remembered how he had tried to sit at the table for dinner, but we had insisted he sit at the counter because the dining table chairs are cloth and he has a propensity to spill things.  If only we had just let him sit at the table.

We had been invited to go out for sushi with friends; if we had said yes, the kids would likely have had pasta and the soup wouldn’t have even existed.

So many little decisions I could have changed to prevent my baby boy’s pain.  It was one of those times when you can see what would have changed if you had made different choices.  But it didn’t change reality, and I was beating myself up for silly things.

Literally relieving the pain and guilt of the moment of the spill.  It was terrible.  And completely unnecessary and unhealthy.  Our minds are powerful.  We can beat ourselves up over and over about things that have happened in our past and “try” to change it, but it is obviously impossible.  We need to “love what is”, embrace the pain or guilt, forgive ourselves, and move on.  Dwelling in the past changes nothing and serves no one.

A skill I need to develop.

P.S.  His leg healed beautifully.  Our bodies are truly amazing.  8 days after the burn, you could poke it and he wouldn’t flinch.

4 Replies to “What I learned from burning my baby”

  1. Dorthy Bytheway says: Reply

    If only does not help. After the fact you did the right thing and you learn from that.
    don’t beat yourself up. You are great parents and your experiences in Guatemala
    are only going to get better.
    Love you, Dad & Mom B

  2. I was truly amazed at how fast his leg healed.

  3. Poor Jonah! I’m glad he’s all better. And hope you’ve been able to move past reliving that moment. We had a scary moment yesterday and I’ve been doing the same thing with what ifs. But nope, they don’t help. Love you!

  4. Patriciachenao@gmail.com says: Reply

    I love how you wrote this down! I can live the moment, I know how frustrated this could be and in top of everything you needed a translator. I feel you’re pain, but you are right our minds are powerful and God is big and He helps us to forgive ourselves and Maybe some day forget the guiltiness and remember just the experience . You are awesome 👏🏼 Thanks for sharing even when It is painful 😣 😊.

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