The Accident

The Accident


Fall light bathed the walls of the Bates’ house. The morning sun made dappled images and everything looked beautiful. Then came a peace-piercing scream.

Charlie ran into the kitchen with a pencil in his hand and with the saddest expression a four-year old could have on his still tan little face. The screaming continued. Josh Bates ran up the back stairs. His wife Molly was in the baby’s room, holding Finney, who had a deep cut on his cheek. Blood was seeping through the wet cloth she held to his face.

“I got too qwose. I didn’t mean to hurt Finney. I mean it. I never meant to hurt him. He was asweep and then he popped up into my pencil. I never meant to hurt him.”

Josh picked up Charlie who buried his face in his father’s shoulder. Molly applied light pressure to the wound and Finney’s cries began to subside.

Molly put out her hand to Charlie as she continued to soothe her eight-month old. Josh lowered Charlie and he flew over to nuzzle Molly.

“Everything will be all right,” Josh said with soothing calmness. Molly removed the wet cloth to reveal a small but definite hole below Finney’s big brown eye.

“Pwease bewieve me. I never meant to hurt Finney. I wanted to see how qwose I could get without weally touching him. I am so sowwy.”

“I know you are, Charlie. Mommy and I believe you. It was an accident. Walking around with a sharp pencil is never a great idea though. I guess you know that now.”

“Josh, will you please call Dr. Lambert? We need him to take a look.” 

“Okay. Charlie come with me and I’ll make you breakfast.”

“Okay, Daddy.” Looking back at Finney and his mother, he said, “I feel so sad. I will never ever do that again.”

“Charlie, I know you won’t.”

Dr. Lambert had time, and Molly and Finney were off to town immediately. Finney did need two teeny stitches. When he and Molly returned two hours later, Josh met his wife and baby with a huge, gentle hug.

Charlie was beyond subdued. The sight of Finney’s bandage made him burst into tears. Hiding his face in his arms was all he could do.

Josh turned back to his wife. “Molly, I was thinking, after you have a bite to eat and some coffee maybe we could go to the Metzger’s farm for a change of scene.”

Charlie’s wet face brightened and Molly’s did too. “That sounds lovely,” as she gently handed Finney to Josh. “I’ll just eat Charlie’s leftover crusts and grab an apple for the car.”

Charlie put out his little hand as his mother reached for the last crust. Molly looked at her little boy. His beautiful brown eyes were full of tears and gratitude. No words were needed. They both felt their priceless good fortune to have each other.

This incident was a true accident. Charlie had no intention of hurting his little brother and his mother and father believed him. His curiosity and lack of experience created a sad event. The thoughtful and tender understanding that Molly and Josh expressed was a little miracle. Often, understandably, parents are so upset when scary things happen that they are unable to also comfort the child who has created the situation. Finney’s little scar will fade. The kindness that Molly and Josh offered Charlie and Finney will stay with them forever. 

Written by Anne Martine Cook, who has over 40 years of experience loving and helping young children and their parents.