July 8, 2015 by CassieCravings
It had been a day with necessary and drab duties of life: scrubbing toilets, folding laundry and the likes. The sun was shining, bright and cheerful. Its disposition added to my foul mood. At least it could have been rainy so that I could feel like I wasn’t missing out on much. I asked my husband to take our son to the park while I finished my last tasks. They left, and I stood in my pajamas at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, flipping through the channels for something to watch that would inspire me to fold towels.
My husband and Eli were gone less than five minutes before the door slammed open. I knew immediately by Eli’s cry that he was hurt, but beyond that I could hear the fear in his sobs. He fallen and hurt his arm. We didn’t discuss it. I was already changing clothes and hunting for shoes. My husband tried to comfort our boy, but he was hysterical.
After waiting, X-Raying and consulting, it was confirmed that Eli had a buckle fracture. His bone bent from the impact of the fall from the monkey bars. Eli was outfitted with a teddy-bear sling and a referral to a specialist. As quickly as we rushed into Urgent Care, we were ushered back out with a shopping list for medicine and extra ace bandages.
Eli and I waited in the car while my husband went into the store. I held the hand of his wrapped arm. He was no longer crying, but his tears were still fresh on his cheeks. “You were very brave,” I whispered. I said the the words for reassurance, thinking that somehow being brave would dull the pain of a broken arm. He winced when I said them.
He looked tired and defeated. He cradled the elbow of his broken arm in his opposite hand. “I…I am not bwrave. I didn’t have any bwrave. I was too scawred to get any.” Glassy eyes glanced at me and then quickly back down to his feet. His face grew red like he had just told a dreadful secret. “I’m so ‘shamed,” he sobbed.
I fought my own tears. Seeing my child in physical pain and then seeing him feeling poorly about himself was too much. He felt defeated. He felt like a coward. I knew it to not be true, but that didn’t change how he felt about himself.
This was his first experience with no do-over. When he couldn’t ride his bike, he continued to try until it was mastered. When he couldn’t write his name, he scribbled letters on every piece of paper in the house until the squiggles became recognizable. Persistence had been the answer to every perceived setback so far in his 5 years of life. But not tonight. Tonight there was no chance to try to stand still at the X-Ray again. He couldn’t redo the opportunity to not cry when the white coated doctor ambled into the room. He felt cowardly. I knew differently, but I also remembered my own first feelings of utter defeat. There are very feelings on this earth that compare to the realization that the “one shot” at this had passed.
I fought my urge to dismiss his feelings. I wanted to do so desperately. Not because I didn’t see the reality of the them, but because I could see the gravity of that defeat weighing so heavily in my little boy’s eyes. So many times as a parent, I find myself wanting the quickest validation because it hurts to see my son hurt. But that night I didn’t tell him that it would be okay. I didn’t tell him that he was brave. Instead I told him of my cowardice.
“I’m not brave either.”
He studied my face. “I think you are,” he said carefully.
“No, no. I was so scared. When Daddy brought you upstairs, I thought I was going to throw up or even pass out. I knew your arm was broken. I knew it even before the doctor said so. I even messaged some of my best friends and told them what happened. I asked them what to do. They told me that I had to be brave. But I was scared. I was scared the entire time.”
He squeezed my hand. He didn’t speak. I watched him replay my words and consider them carefully. “I saw you,” he began. “You wrocked me while we waited for ‘da doctowr. In ‘da X-Wray, ‘da doctowr was mad be’tausthe I was scawred of it. But you didn’t have any mad at me. You told me it was o’tay. You holded my hand. You telled me to closthe my eyesth and sthing my favowrite sthong. You are bwrave.”
“But I was scared.”
“But you took cawre of me. You are bwrave.” A smile began to pull at his tired face. He nodded understanding.
“Being brave has very little to do with not being scared and has so much to do with carrying on through the fear.”
A brightness returned to his eyes, melting away the defeat. “I mean. Wreally I is kind of like a sthupewr hewro,” he grinned.
We settled back into our seats, sinking into the fabric. We were both weary physically and emotionally. Eli rubbed his arm tenderly as I sang him his favorite song. We were tired, but we were not defeated.We would have a long few weeks ahead of us. There would be several appointments, more X-Rays, a cast and a 5 year-old boy who would walk bravely through it all.