I had just arrived home from a business trip and pulled up into the driveway. My wife was waiting in the carport outside, when just as I opened my car door my oldest daughter came running . . . with fear on her face. "Mom! Come quick!" My wife went inside and I just let her go handle it as I grabbed my stuff from the car and headed into the house. I could hear some whimpering from the back of the house, and so I followed the sounds.
In the bathroom my wife was pressing a wet wash cloth on the mouth of my youngest daughter while the oldest just stood there looking pale and worried. Whatever had happened, blood was definitely involved, and the oldest was obviously feeling guilty and responsible. Shaking off the exhaustion from hours of travel, I asked calmly, "What happened?"
What ensued was an animated and worried explanation by my oldest daughter of how she accidentally slammed the door to the bathroom into the face of her younger sister who was busy being nosey while my oldest was trying to get some privacy. "Tell her you're sorry." My oldest apologized. "Guess you will leave her alone when she needs to use the bathroom from now on won't you?" My youngest nodded.
I hugged my oldest, telling her that everything will be fine, and that she was not in trouble. I believed her when she told her story, not so much because she is not capable of lying, but that she has a home-grown fear of the consequences of lying that far outweigh any fear of discipline for whatever she has done. I then went to my youngest, picked her up, and just hugged her, too.
Within 30 minutes, it was as if the incident had never happened, and life restarted in our house with our little family. Thing is, such small emergencies are much bigger than most men realize. If I had over-reacted, I very well could have wounded the spirit of my oldest. Ignore it completely, and the youngest would be left to wonder if she mattered at all. I'm not saying I handled the situation perfectly, or even the best way possible, but I handled it keeping both of my daughters in mind.
This was not a medical emergency, it was an emergency of priorities. Your children need to know that they matter to you. No matter how big or small the incident, when things go wrong in their lives they want to know you care enough to take some time out for them. If my children had been boys, I might have handled it differently, but with a household full of females, a slap on the back and a "shake it off" simply would not be good enough here.
Whether it is a broken toy, some hurt feelings, a skinned knee, or a busted lip, your kids will come to you with all sorts of emergencies. Many of them will not require more than a few minutes of your attention, but those moments are so very important.
I think that a lot of kids who grow up starved for attention did not come to that point all at once. Rather, it was the missed moments of small emergencies that accumulated over time, and eventually these kids learn that only the most egregious actions will ever warrant attention, and so they go there.
To keep from having those really big emergencies that are self-inflicted by your children, take advantage of the small emergencies to give them attention and show you really care. What small emergencies, what opportunities to show your children you care are passing you by?