By Beck

It’s rarely a good thing when your kid’s school phones you in the middle of the day. Especially when you answer the phone and the school secretary starts talking in a very apologetic voice.

“What happened?” I cut in, right in the middle of her greetings.

“The Girl – and I don’t think you should panic -”

Panicking commenced. Gotcha.

“Well, she fell and was hurt on the climber, and she says that her arm feels like it did the time she broke it. ”


“We think she’s okay, but we also think that she’d be happier if she was able to go home. And you’ll want to have her arm looked at.”

Phone call to my husband at work – come home RIGHT NOW, they think The Girl might have broken her arm AGAIN. Pack a bag – snacks for The Baby, The Girl’s health card, story books, magazine – in case there are hours of waiting in our small Ontario hospital ahead of us. My husband gets home in record time and I run into the school and there is my white faced child, utterly composed, wearing a grey dress and black tights and black and silver shoes, her best friend loyal and red-eyed beside her.

“Hey Mama!” she says, quite cheerfully. Her elbow – her right one again – has a livid purple bruise, and the new principal is in the hallway, upset and apologetic. We take her to the clinic and the nurse-practioner asks her to move her arm and she tries, her face suddenly going even paler with pain. Oh, I did not know that she hurt like that, I underestimated my stoic, tough child again. X-rays, the nurse-practioner says, and we are in the car and driving to the hospital.

She sits on the black stool in the radiology room, and the handsome young x-ray tech – there are lots of good looking men in this story – asks me to untie her makeshift sling. He fits her with the standard x-ray shield and it hangs on her, so tiny she is. He finds her a smaller one. He asks her to put her wounded arm down on the table, to lay it flat, and she does, her eyes meeting mine, seagreen and bemused. She is whole again, you see, the pain has fluttered away, leaving only a pretty child by herself in the middle of the darkened room, leaving pictures of her sturdy bones in the hands of the handsome young x-ray tech as she skips off the stool and out of the room, whole and unbroken.

Beck also writes at Frog And Toad Are Still Friends.

28 Responses to Fragile
  1. Woman in a window
    September 11, 2008 | 7:43 am

    I see it all. In fact the table might still have held a shadow of warmth from my son’s arm. Funny to think of both their arms resting there months apart. And how many other children in between? Glad she’s alright.

    Once before I brought my son there quickly ’cause he threw himself down and I grabbed his arm to break his fall, but instead twisted it severely. I thought I had broken him. He cried horribly all the way to the hospital. Then while waiting for them to check him in he was handing from the check-out counter saying, “Whoa mom, look at me!” Shirphead!

  2. Laura
    September 11, 2008 | 8:28 am

    I hope The Girl is all better and healed in record time!

    P.S. My husband IS a handsome x-ray tech! 🙂 Just had to add that!

  3. Minnesotamom
    September 11, 2008 | 8:35 am

    Wish I could be as resilient as I once was! Take care, The Girl, to be very thankful for your strong bones!

  4. Kathryn
    September 11, 2008 | 9:07 am

    Well thank goodness for happy endings!

  5. Lisa Milton
    September 11, 2008 | 9:37 am

    So glad she’s ok.

    (I want a gray dress and black tights. Is that wrong?)

  6. poppy fields
    September 11, 2008 | 9:45 am

    Glad she was okay.

  7. Alison
    September 11, 2008 | 10:05 am

    Whew! Big sigh of relief. How horrible it is to see that pain on your child’s face–somehow it seems like it might be worse when they are trying to be stoic.

  8. Shalee
    September 11, 2008 | 10:18 am

    Holy cow. I was thinking that the outcome would be much worse knowing the track record for your house. :o) Thank you God for no broken bones, and for a pretty child who is stronger than she knows.

  9. nomotherearth
    September 11, 2008 | 10:28 am

    Glad she’s okay! I dread the first time this happens to one of the boys. We’ve had our fair share of hospital emergency time, and it takes my breath and spirit away.

  10. Cyndi
    September 11, 2008 | 10:37 am

    Oh my goodness! I am so glad she is alright but I know that must have been such a shock!

  11. chickadee
    September 11, 2008 | 11:29 am

    poor thing. your family has a lot of scary medical things.

  12. Elizabeth Laidlaw
    September 11, 2008 | 12:21 pm

    Hockey Mom?

    What is she thinking?

    We have many things in common, Sarah Palin and me. I too have a young adult son, a 17-year-old girl and a disabled child. I am a hockey mom – a field hockey mom at that. I am fortunate to have a successful career.

    You would think I would fully support Gov. Palin’s choice to be considered for as a vice presidential nominee. Not so. I could no more support her tackling rigorous medical school or pursuing the dream of becoming an astronaut while she has five children in need of momming.

    I caution young adults to suspend judgment until they are fully informed. With what little information journalists have unearthed about Gov. Palin, this one feature of her life leads me to an uncharacteristically quick, concise evaluation. One cannot both be a hockey mom and run for national office without one or the other suffering.

    My guess is that she did not spend the past month of the hockey preseason shuttling players to and from practices and scrimmages and the sports store (one can never have too many mouth guards!). Her candidacy precludes her from spending precious hours with her son before his deployment to Iraq, listening to his ambitions, questions and anxieties and offering the wisdom of her life experience in return. This takes time. As a contender she certainly cannot offer the 24/7 care and comfort to her infant—attention all infants require, disabled or not. She does not have time to begin wading through the challenges and decisions parents of special needs kids face.

    My criticism of Palin is not political. I would be equally critical of her as the VP choice of Obama, Nader, or Paul. Nor is my criticism sexist. I welcome her becoming a VP, a doctor or an astronaut, just not when her kids are in crisis.

    The choice to bear and raise a child carries an explicit promise that you will be there for the child. Choosing to bear life (except in the case of choosing adoption, an excellent choice no one seems to talk about much) contains the promise that you will be there for the hockey game, the teen’s impending delivery, and the 2 AM feeding. Choosing to raise children means choosing to spend significant time with them.

    How can she call herself a hockey mom when she repeatedly makes choices that propel her away from her children? What is she thinking?

    Elizabeth Laidlaw

  13. crazymumma
    September 11, 2008 | 12:40 pm

    Thank goodness.

  14. edj
    September 11, 2008 | 12:58 pm

    Oh Phew! What a relief! I’m so glad she’s okay.

    There’s just never a dull moment chez vous, is there?

  15. Gill
    September 11, 2008 | 1:03 pm

    Oh thank goodness she is alright 🙂
    I hate hate hate that phone call…”its the school…your child has….. ” i’m normally putting my jacket on and grabbing the car keys before they can tell me the problem!! Puts your heart in your mouth doesn’t it!
    My oldest broke her foot – 1 week before school was back in!! 2 weeks left to go till she can do PE again! So i totally hear ya!!

  16. Jennifer
    September 11, 2008 | 1:15 pm

    They seem to shrink when they hurt or are sad, don’t they? So little.

    Thank goodness she is fine.

  17. bren j.
    September 11, 2008 | 1:33 pm

    What? Mr. J. was in Ontario working yesterday? Who knew!

    Glad The Girl is going to be okay. Hooray for no broken bones!

  18. gretchen from lifenut
    September 11, 2008 | 1:51 pm

    So happy her arm is okay.

  19. Susan (5 Minutes for Mom)
    September 11, 2008 | 1:55 pm

    Wow, she’s a brave little trooper. I’m so happy to hear such a fortunate ending.

  20. Kelly
    September 11, 2008 | 1:59 pm

    I can’t get over the title for this piece, Beck. Who’s wears the fragile label here? Hmmmmm….

  21. Susanne
    September 11, 2008 | 3:40 pm

    I hate when they always start with “Don’t panic”. That just makes me panic more.

    So glad everything was alright.

  22. Aliki
    September 11, 2008 | 5:03 pm

    Oh! I’m glad she’s fine, beck–what a scare…poor brave girl.

  23. janet
    September 11, 2008 | 5:36 pm

    I love a happy ending.

  24. chelle
    September 11, 2008 | 7:51 pm

    OOoo so glad she is ok … wow what a scare!! Hope you are ok too!

  25. tracey
    September 11, 2008 | 10:05 pm

    Whew! So, she’s ok. How are YOU doing, after all of that??

  26. Painted Maypole
    September 12, 2008 | 12:37 am

    hooray for unbroken!

  27. Jennifer, Snapshot
    September 13, 2008 | 12:07 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful.

    Love the picture of her sitting, waiting — what she’s wearing, loyal friend beside her. . . .

  28. Para Ma
    April 15, 2012 | 8:53 am

    Cool sites…

    […]we came across a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[…]……

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL