This spring, my fourth child had an unfortunate incident involving a trampoline that resulted in a dislocated and fractured elbow. It was painful and somewhat traumatic and not at all what we would want for anyone. He needed surgery to repair the damage and has weeks left of being in a splint and some occupational therapy ahead of him. If he continues to improve, he will be good to go by mid-summer. While no one wants their kid in pain or to get hurt, I’m viewing this injury as the sign of a healthy childhood.
This kid is by far the most active of my five boys. He is in constant motion, plays outside more than inside and is always covered by an array of bruises, bug bites, scrapes and scratches. He is rarely clean and is happiest sweaty and breathing heavily. Being forced to slow down and “take it easy,” has been hard for him. He has spent the remainder of his school year helping out at the 4K classroom during recess and spending his phy-ed time helping at his younger brother’s 1st grade classroom. I am thankful that the teachers have found a place for him to feel useful and less tempted to join in the soccer game going on during recess.
On the other hand, I want to keep this injury in perspective. Childhood is meant to have its challenges which include a broken bone (or two?). If he (along with the rest of my kids) grew to be an adult and never had a setback or an injury, I think I have done my job as a parent wrong. Shouldn’t I encourage him to take risks, to get out there and play and not worry about the what ifs?
When he gets discouraged, we talk about perspective. Things could have been worse. He hurt his left arm instead of his right (he’s a righty). He did not hurt both arms. He hurt his arm instead of his leg (much easier to get around). We have an amazing children’s hospital twenty minutes from our house. Occupational therapy and follow-up appointments are with amazing medical staff that are nearby. I’m realistic, I know that more injuries are likely.
Additionally, our family may have more perspective than most. Our youngest has a few brain surgeries under his belt, so we’ve seen what isn’t considered part of a healthy childhood. We have spent time in hospital rec rooms with kids who have a lot more going on than a broken elbow. We’ve played cards with kids who have tubes coming out of them and do not get outside for weeks at a time. Children who do not have hair on their heads and are literally fighting for their lives.
I’ll take the broken elbow.
My child will recover. He will not have lasting damage and his lifetime has not been shortened.
The other day during a post-surgical follow-up, I was chatting with the nurse practitioner about common childhood injuries that she sees daily. At the top of her list are trampolines, tag, monkey bars, dodge ball, biking, running, climbing trees… so basically….an active childhood.
I know this may sound crazy to some, but I will not keep him from going on another trampoline in the future. I’m having a hard enough time keeping him still as it is. Once he’s healed up I expect him to get back on his bike, jump on a trampoline, play dodge ball, climb trees and monkey bars. He WILL get more bruises, scrapes and yes, probably another broken bone. But whatever injuries he may sustain, they are minimal in comparison to living his life to the fullest.
I’ll take the bumps and bruises because these are a sign of a healthy childhood.