Am I Small, Or Am I Big?


Logan, my three-year-old dynamo, sat quietly, propped on pillows during our last hours of a one-night hospital stay two days ago.  We’d been watching something on the television, sharing the hospital breakfast (or trying to, neither of us had much of an appetite), and not talking.  We’d hardly slept over the last 16 hours.  We were ready to go.  She looked at her splinted, throbbing right hand for a few minutes, and turned to me with the cutest, most confused face I’ve seen on her, and asked,

“Mom, I ah smaw ow I big?”

Am I small, or am I big?  She’d never asked me that before.  She makes statements of being both big and small – “Mom, I a big gow, I do id mysowf,” or, “Mom, I too smaw to weach dat, tan you det id?”  She’s never wondered.  Her question really struck me.  Both my daughters are intuitive beyond their years.  Logan knows so much about so much, and she gets things you wouldn’t expect a toddler to understand.  We’d had a great morning that day, at the park, in the sprinklers, having our faces painted.  We’d been headed to the museum, my girls and I and my 4-year-old niece and 2-year-old nephew.  We were coming up from the subway and were taking the escalator.  I headed up first with my nephew, followed by Logan, my niece, and Ryleigh.  I was just getting off when I heard Ryleigh screaming for Logan to keep moving, but it wasn’t a warning scream, it was a panicked scream.  I turned around and walked back immediately, seeing that Logan, who had already exited the escalator, had turned back as though to walk back down.  Her water shoe, thin and flimsy, had come off and been sucked into the top of the escalator.  Logan was bending down to retrieve it.  I saw her hand and screamed for her to stop, SCREAMED.  I got to her just as the tips of her fingers went in.

In literally about 3 seconds, I don’t know how, but numerous thoughts ran through my mind:

Her entire hand is rolling in.  

Her entire arm will roll in.

I have to pull her hand out.

The escalator is going to rip her fingers open.

I should have been with her.

This was such a nice day.

I am so sorry, Logan.

I hope Logan doesn’t die.

As soon as her fingers went in I grabbed her palm and squeezed.  I pulled against the stairs, still rolling into the top of the escalator, and started to cry even before I got her hand free.  I felt the tugging as I pulled.  Her hand came out bloodied and dripping.  One finger was open in the middle, a gash about half the length of her baby-carrot sized finger, and two fingernails hung at the end of her fingertips having been pulled completely back.  I walked Logan away from the escalator, yelled for someone to call an ambulance, and sat on the ground crying with her in my lap. Ryleigh was a few feet away, sobbing uncontrollably.  Logan moaned and looked at her hand, now all red.  Blood was smeared all over my legs and lap.  I grabbed a towel from our bag and wrapped it around her tiny hand and applied pressure.  I dialed 9-1-1 from my own phone but when they answered I could not think of anything to say – I opened my mouth and nothing came out, and the phone dropped from my ear.

Roughly fifteen people were on hand to help, including a medical student who fashioned a tourniquet from Ryleigh’s swimsuit top, and made an ice pack with a glove he had and a cup of ice another woman had rushed to retrieve.  A middle school teacher held Ryleigh the entire time, until we got into the ambulance.  We were taken to the hospital and every hour the news was worse.  It went from a few sutures with general sedation, to cut tendons, a cut growth plate, an endangered joint, and a fracture.  She was going to the OR, she was going to be intubated, she was going to have a pin placed, she was going to need therapy.  But she was going to have all her fingers, and her hand.  She was going to be fine.  She was young, they said, and so would heal beautifully.

I often say on my page that I am alone, but not lonely.  I was lonely that night.  I was lonely as I sat on the ground with Logan bleeding in my lap, watching everyone around me on their phones and taking care of the other three children.  I was lonely in the ambulance when the driver asked if I was mom to all four kids and I replied, “Yes,” only to interrupt him mid-sentence, seconds later, and blurt, “These aren’t all my kids!”  I was lonely at the hospital trying to remember all I was being told, viewing x-rays, meeting team members, consoling Ry, stroking Logan, navigating my guilt.  I didn’t even try to pinpoint something to feel guilty about, I was punishing myself with general, all-inclusive guilt.  I was lonely when the doctors changed their minds about letting me be with Logan until she was fully asleep after the anesthesia was administered (I think they were worried about my reaction to the tubes?), and Lo was wheeled away crying for me.  I was so exhausted by then, 2:30 a.m., that I didn’t even argue.  Just watched her go and resigned myself to the recovery room to wait.  I was lonely as I waited there, alone.  It took a lot longer than they’d said and I honestly thought, “What if something horrible has happened and they’re waiting to tell me until they’ve cleaned her up?”

Lo was out of recovery at 3:30 and we were admitted to a room at about 4:30 am.  She never woke up after the procedure, which I was told was very normal for toddlers who had such sedation so late at night.  She’d awaken in the morning, they said.  She’d done very well.  The pin had been placed and her fingers were sutured and wrapped.  We went to the room and by 5 the nurses were done with all their ‘welcome’ stuff.  Logan had an IV in her left arm.  She hadn’t been allowed to eat since 6pm that evening, I knew she’d be hungry when she woke.  I hadn’t slept by the time she was up at 7 wanting to nurse.  We ate breakfast and crayons and paper were brought in for Lo.  The more she did, the more she realized: I can’t use my right hand.  She looked at me with confusion and pain in her eyes and cried.  (I suppose that day was all she needed, because ever since it’s been like she’s DARING someone to tell her there’s something she can’t do.)  Shortly after, just before discharge, was when she sat back and asked me,

“Mom, I ah smaw ow I big?”

“Both, Lo,” I replied.  “You’re a small person, but you’re a big girl now.  You can do a lot of things but you still need help sometimes, that’s okay.  And you really need to listen to me when I tell you to be careful.”  Logan’s eyes watered.

“I know Mom, I dis made a mis-dayke.  You need to pud me in a cawee-uh if I det on dose esca-yay-duhs.”

Of course, it was my fault.  :)

“Okay, Logan, I will.  But you also have to listen to me, okay?  I am small and big, too.  I’m tall and I can do a lot of things, but sometimes I am too small to help with certain things.  That’s why I say be careful, because I know if you get really hurt we will have to ask the doctors for help.”

“Oday, Mom.  Mom,” she started to make her crazy face as she prepared to mock one of her doctors.  “I don’t YIKE doctuhs, dey tawk yike dis, “Hey, you, hey, no food!”  I started cracking up.  The entire time, Logan had been most upset about not being able to eat or nurse!  And I smiled at how quickly she was getting back to herself.  I sat there exhausted, worried, empty-bellied; and the patient with the pin and the sutures and the splint was cracking jokes.

She is so small, but she is so big, too.

This will not be my last hospital visit with Logan, I just know it.  She is too fearless, too fierce, too independent, she rocks too hard.  She doesn’t just dance to the beat of a different drummer, she is determined to beat the drum and dance, all at once.  Like just that same morning when I’d asked her repeatedly to not climb 5 feet high and hang upside down.  She never listened.  But she was fine.  She usually is; and sometimes she won’t be.  I think that comes with the territory of having a strong-willed child.  I’m new to it.  But I will learn to embrace it.  I won’t stop worrying, ever, I know that.  I won’t stop crying during these hospital visits, I’ll try, but…

I’ve learned that I need to save my energy for these moments when her spiritedness really does cause her harm.  I need to let go of those things which may worry me but which she has under control, though it may not look that way to me.  Logan has an agenda; I have a duty to keep her safe.  Somewhere, there is a balance.  I’m still working it out.  I’m a big girl, too.  But some days, I feel so, so small.

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Categories: Single Motherhood, The Lows


I'm Kimberley, work-at-home single momma to two girls, Ryleigh, 9, and Logan, 3. The Single Crunch is the story of our journey from a lifestyle saturated in mainstream ideals to an organic existence, and learning to love each other, ourselves, and any living thing, unconditionally. I'm passionate about breastfeeding, unschooling, single parenting, writing, grief, childhood abuse, childism, and natural living. I write about all this and whatever else moves me, which is a lot, and I throw in some funny on the regular. I'm humbled and grateful to have you reading, thank you. I hope something here will help you in any way.

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26 Comments on “Am I Small, Or Am I Big?”

  1. Arin
    September 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    **what a journey** loved reading your thoughts and feelings** love n light** you guys are radio and so strong. I was lonely for you too, that made me cry <3

    • Arin
      September 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

      *rad ;)

      • September 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

        Thank you, Arin. New day though, right? ;) xoxo

  2. Morgan
    September 3, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    Hey mama, sounds scary. It also sounds like you are coming through all right. Glad Logan is such a strong personality and has such a great sense of humor. Hope Ry is doing okay. I remember how scared and guilty I felt when my little brother got hurt badly. Hugs to you all, m

    • September 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

      Hey M. Yes, we are coming through all right. Logan is amazing. I need to keep learning from her. Thanks for checking in. K

  3. September 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    wonderful…and I relate so much, as ever. Thank you for sharing!

  4. September 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    oh my, this had me in tears (like so much of your brilliant writing). i always think that something bad will never happen to my kids, that people are just too paranoid about riskjljl, and you’ve just shown me how simple it is for something to happen. i hope your little one is ok. don’t blame yourself too much. lots of love to you. xxx

    • September 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

      Ha – I am likely one of those parents…but this incident has taught me that I really do need to save up strength for when she’s in trouble, not just when I imagine trouble. Thanks, Friend. Love to you.

  5. Stephanie
    September 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    I’m in tears reading this. You and your girls are so brave! This scares me so much though because I am dreading the day when something like this happens to my Tyler; I know it’s only a matter of time. I know y’all will be okay because you’re an awesome mommy!

    • September 3, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

      Thank you Stepanie. I was not prepared for this because Ryleigh is so different. When you do get there, remember to eat. :) Love to you and Tyler.

  6. Tyfffanie
    September 3, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    I really was crying reading this. Lo is such an amazing intelligent girl. and you are an amazing mom. I wish I could be there for you so you dont feel lonely. Glad everything turned out ok.

    • September 3, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

      Thanks T, and thanks for taking my scared phone calls that night. Love you.

  7. Page
    September 3, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    O. M. G! I was trembling for you………by the way. YOU ARE FUCKING AWESOME! <3 X 1,000,000,000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Mara
    September 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    I just saw this! My heart goes to you!!!! XOXOXO

  9. Alicia
    September 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    Oh mommy, can I relate! My little Delilah turns three on Saturday and in the past 6 months she broke her arm doing flips off the couch like her older brother, scalped herself the size of a plum on a fish tank after sitting wrong on an ottoman too close to said tank and putting her head through it, and most recently breaking her collar bone while playing on the computer chair and spinning one another. I am looking forward to the MANY inevitable sleepless nights spent in the hospital waiting rooms. I have three children and she is the one who seems to always have something going on. No matter how attentive we are some things slip by. She is a very strong girl as well and always wants to learn and explore. I was (am) the same way so I can’t fault her for it, I just have to be close at hand when these things happen.

    • September 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

      Same here. I am not going to be able to prevent everything. I will always be close by though. <3

  10. September 3, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    I don´t know you but your post touched my heart. I´ve got three confident and brave boys and I know what it is to visit the hospital with them. Your words made me cry and I thank you for sharing your feelings so honestly and the final sentence regarding balance… Love, Fernanda

    • September 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

      Thank you, Fernanda. It is tough to find a balance, especially when they are so young. But I know it’s necessary!

  11. September 4, 2012 at 1:59 am #

    OMG, Kimberley, I was in tears too. I know what you’ve been through. My little one burnt both his hands when he was 14 months old and his brother was days from turning 3. I was alone with them. I had told Alex never ever to get near the fireplace. I was actually blocking the way, then Dave started crying, I turned to him and Alex sneaked behind my back to the fireplace. It took two seconds. Now 4, he thinks it’s so funny that he did that; he has a little scar on two fingers. I also blamed myself and felt so alone and lonely at the hospital.

  12. September 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    She might enjoy this book – the children in my class love it and it’s all about the different ways the main character is both big and little :)

    • October 19, 2012 at 3:41 am #

      Thank you for this suggestion! I don’t know why I didn’t see this sooner.

  13. Ali
    September 5, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    I have a three year old, too. I imagined this happening to him and I cried hysterically. I feel for you and hope Logan heals completely very very soon! Hugs X -)

    • September 5, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

      Thank you, I had no idea this would make people cry, haha. Logan is such a warrior. She won’t even slow down. Thanks for reading and hugs to y’all, just because. :)

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