My blog I've ignored for 2 years while attending the Brandcenter
Growing up, I was a cautions child. When presented with the option of running head first into an unknown (but most likely super fun) situation I preferred to think things through. Let someone else go off that gigantic (definitely not OSHA approved) rope swing first. I wasn’t in a hurry. I’d wait patiently and see how it all worked out.
That’s probably why I’ve never broken a bone in my life. That is also why some of my closest friends growing up were the exact opposite of me. We needed each other. They’d push me into that unknown fun that I needed to have and I’d make sure that we didn’t get ourselves killed when we strayed too far. I know my parents worried that they were a bad influence on me as much as their parents were relieved that they had a friend who knew how to pause for a moment.
My oldest didn’t inherit my cautiousness. He got my wife’s impulsive-never-stopping-unless-I’m-asleep energy. Or as our friend Christyn perfectly summed him up – a perpetual ball of motion.
I’m glad he has this energy. He’s going to have a lot of fun in life. He’ll take risks where others were afraid and it will lead to amazing things.
But, not for the next 6 weeks.
This energy also comes with a price. Occasionally it will overwhelm him. It will cause him to slip while goofing off on the stairs. The other day this resulted in something called a “Toddler’s Fracture”. Otherwise known as a broken leg.
I think doctor’s give these injuries cute names to lessen the blow for freaked out parents. A partially dislocated elbow makes me want to scream and pass out. But “Nursemaid elbow”, that doesn’t sound so bad. There isn’t any reason to get lightheaded over that. A broken leg brings images of someone starring in disbelief of a bone jutting out of their skin. That’s way worse than a “Toddler’s Fracture” which makes me think of a lil’ boo boo which only needs this adorable Hello Kitty cast and a few stickers.
For the next 6 weeks my little Asian Speedy Gonzalez will be forced to slow down.
During this time of recovery I plan on going over some of the finer points of the cautious lifestyle with him but until then here are 5 Random Thoughts On OMG YOU BROKE YOUR FREAKIN’ LEG!
1. You can have everything
It’s not like it was my fault he broke his leg. I wasn’t playing on the stairs with him when he fell. In fact my wife’s last words to him before his accident was ordering him off the stairs before he hurt himself. But of course that only resulted in more jackass-ery. Even with a clear conscious I felt a tremendous amount of guilt. I just felt so bad for him. Here is my mighty little warrior who fears nothing immobilized with a cast up to his hip.
It also didn’t help that for the first 48 hours he could only wear a split. Once the swelling went down we had to bring him back so he could get his full leg cast. That meant that I needed to carry him off the couch, to the car, out of the car and to the doctor’s office. Each time I went to lift him he’d shriek. It would be a combination of pain and the fear of approaching pain. This was the first time he’s really been hurt. And it was freaking him out.
Having your 4 year old cry “NO DADDY NO NO NO!” and try to wave you off while you bend down and take him to the bathroom hurts.
Sure, not as much as the kid with the broken leg but it’s still traumatizing (for me).
In an attempt to make everyone feel better we deployed a “You can have whatever you want” approach to parenting.
Ice cream? Sure.
TV all day? You betcha!
iPad? Take mommy’s iPhone while you’re at it and here’s my Nexus mini and your LeapPad.
This is the sort of parenting choices that I am sure will no way come back to haunt us.
2. He fought the doc and the doc won
I think it was because he didn’t see it coming. I’m sure that’s why it rattled him. He’s used to dealing with professional athletes. One’s who have a history dealing with pain. What he wasn’t prepared for was my 4 year old with a broken tibia screaming. Not just screaming in pain but screaming directly at him. As in “PLEASE STOP HURTING ME DOCTOR?! WHHHYYYYY!!!!”
I felt bad for him.
The doc not my kid.
I mean, don’t get me wrong I still felt bad about my kid but it’s been 48 hours now since the break and I really needed to get this cast on him. The cast would keep his leg from being jostled around while I’m carrying him around like Hodor from Game of Thrones.
Also, for a moment it was nice to see someone else getting the guilt trip.
All the poor guy was doing was wrapping our boy’s leg in a cast. I could tell the screaming was getting to him. About 30 seconds into the process he looked pasty. Sweat could be seen gathering on his bald head. He was in trouble. Then a determined look came over him. One you see in athletes when the game is on the line and they need to step it up. You could tell he was mentally pumping himself up. “YOU CAN DO THIS! THIS IS WHAT YOU TRAINED FOR! FOCUS!” The color returned to his face as the muscles in his jaw clenched. He was determined now. He drowned out our four year old’s questions like “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?!?!” and finished the job.
After he was done he turned and left the curtained area without saying a word to anyone. I like to imagine he went to a corner where his assistants gave him a towel, squirted water on his face and head and rubbed his shoulders for awhile.
The break was over and it was time to get back in there. He stood up and marched back through the curtain.
Our boy began to wind himself up again at first sight of him. This time he was ready. He brought stickers and commented on how cool the new camouflaged cast was. He peppered my son with questions about how the cast felt while dodging any awkward silences that might bring about a roundhouse of screaming. He floated between my wife and I answering our questions and reassuring our son he’d get the cast off before the beach.
When the final bell rang out he raised one fist in the air and triumphantly strutted away from us forever. He had other patients to see…and possibly a vasectomy to schedule.
3. Handicap tags are the bees knees
I can’t lie. Having a handicap tag is “the shit”. I know that sounds terrible. Yes, I’m sure that the people that use it everyday of their lives don’t think of it as “the shit”. Actually, I don’t know that. I bet if we asked them what it’s like to always know you’re getting a great parking spot they say it was the sheeeeeeeeeeeeit.
I’ve never actually polled anyone but one time I did give the stink eye to an spry looking old man at Wegmans who took the last handicap parking spot. He moved a little slow but not any faster then me the next morning after a day spent doing yard work.
This random thought is way more random than usual.
Anyways, temporary handicap tags are the shit.
4. We’re creating a monster
I’m not saying he’s going to turn into the next Sith Lord but if our son becomes a supervillain this would be the beginning of his origin story. Right now he’s more “Stewie Griffin” but if we don’t get this cast off soon he could start moving into “King Joffery” territory. It’s like when his leg broke all the sage parenting we’ve crammed in him began to ooze out. The first couple days he was fine. He was still in shock about being hurt and we were so consumed with our own guilt we all just wanted to him to feel better.
After the cast though things began to change. With his leg no longer is danger of being hurt anymore he became much more aware of his situation. He began to
ask expect demand our electronic devices. In the beginning we felt inclined because of the guilt but also because there isn’t much a kid can do with a cast up to his hip except sit on the couch, watch TV and plot how to rule all of mankind.
Not helping his frustration is that it’s also been hot. Gross, sticky, Virginia humidity that chokes you the moment you step outside. It engulfs you. It oppresses you. It makes me positive that if people were ever to colonize Mars the first astronauts should be from the South. We are already used to living in climate controlled structures most of our lives. We go from central air conditioned house to an air conditioned car to an air conditioned work back to an a/c car and finally return to an a/c house – and repeat. Fresh air? I’ll see you in October.
It is the sort of uncomfortable heat that is only cured with a dip into a cool neighborhood pool.
Oops. Everyone except you Lil’ Joe Theismann. While every kid right now is escaping the heat by playing in the pool you’re stuck inside watching Team Unizoomi.
Hopefully he’ll remember who carried him to the bathroom all those times when he enslaves the human race.
5. There will be a reckoning
We’ve all struggled the past couple of weeks. My boy with the pain and frustration of his leg. My wife and I with the guilt and stress caring for the next Emperor of humanity. But there is one person who has used this situation for his own benefit – our 2 year old.
Since he’s been able to walk and play with his older brother our youngest, “Bubba”, has always had to contend with being a little smaller, a little slower and a little weaker. The past couple of weeks though the tables have been turned. Bubba is now realizing he has the upper hand. He can smash his brother’s carefully stacked toy building with impunity. If he sees something he wants, that his older brother is playing with, he can snatch it and be in the other room before any parents can arrive. Or if he just feels like giving him a brotherly ‘bop’ on the head with a Thomas the Train – What can his brother do? Scoot after him?
There have been numerous times that we’ve come running into a room to see Bubba smiling as he jogs out of reach of a crawling little boy in a full leg cast. He’s like Anakin Skywalker at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Only minus the lava, amputated limps and weepy Ewan McGregor.
Today, our oldest gets his leg cast reduced to a half cast. Will he use his new found freedom to go outside? Will he try and make up for the missed weeks of summer vacation? Maybe the cast will be a waterproof and he can finally go swimming?
What say you Doc Holiday?
That’s what I’m afraid of Doc.
Keep your head on a swivel Bubba and ALL HAIL THE EMPEROR!
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est. 2013, curated by the Hour After Happy Hour Writing Workshop
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Mr. Fenske is a professor at VCU Brandcenter in Richmond VA. The site is an extension of his efforts in the classroom, except for the cartoons, which seem to grow out of some disaffection he feels with the world. Thank you for visiting. © Mark Fenske
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