It was only a matter of time.
For the past couple weeks, my 15-year-old son, had been perfecting his flips and somersaults on our backyard trampoline. “Watch mom,” he’d say. “I can do a double back flip now.” And he could. “Please be careful,” I’d implore, knowing my plea wouldn’t make a bit of difference is his attempts. This is my child who, two years ago, sustained a serious concussion after deciding to swing from a wooden garden trellis 10 feet off the ground. He jumped up to grab the trellis, his hands slipped off, and he landed on the back of his head on concrete. Eyes rolling up. Vomit. Subchorionic hemorrhage in the font of his brain. Loss of smell and taste. Six weeks of healing.
We always told him he should join the school gymnastics team but he preferred to jump and roll and flip on the backyard tramp. Debates on Facebook would rage about the danger of trampolines and me and other friends would assure the naysayers “best $300 we’d ever spent for exercise and enjoyment.”
Until last night when he came running in the kitchen, holding his thumb and doubled over in pain. “Ow, ow, ow. My thumb. My thumb. I think I broke it. It’s turning purple.” “What did you do?? I implored. “I was doing a flip and landed wrong on my thumb.” I took a look and could see the immediate swelling and yes, purplish hue.
Off to Urgent Care with boy and ice pack.
On the way, my teenager was teary. “Why the tears?” I asked. “Are you scared?” ”I don’t know what they’re going to need to do to me,” his words rushed together. “And if this is going to cost us a lot of money and and and…” Crap. I hate when parental conversations about money seep into their little brains. ”Honey,” I said. ”Let’s take it one step at at time. Lots of kids have gone before you with broken bones and they have survived. And please don’t worry about money. This is another reason that dad’s job is a good one. We have insurance for these kinds of accidents.”
This seemed to calm him but his pain was still palpable.
We checked into Urgent Care to find a 30-minute wait. So we walked to McDonald’s across the street.
“Why does this stuff always happen to me?” he asked in a forlorn tone. I gathered my thoughts, asking myself the same thing. But the answer was crystal clear.
“Because honey,” I said. “Because you’re you and you’re an adventurer and a risk taker with a playful heart. You’re never going to be content just jumping up and down in life. You’re going to try the flip and the somersault and keep trying to land them. And that’s a beautiful thing.” Then I added, “it just means we’re going to be in the Urgent Care more often.”
After McDonald’s, we went back to the Urgent Care, and I knew we had an hour or two ahead of us with an exam, x-ray and diagnosis. And that’s when things got really interesting.
Sitting in the exam room following his X-ray, my child starts rifling through the drawers. “Are these….?” he holds up a square package of gauze. “No, they are not condoms,” I said. ”They look like condoms,” he replied then quickly added, ”I know because of health class.” This seemed to open up the thoughts in his brain. “You know, Tommy is having sex with Shelly (changed these names, people!) and she had to change schools when her mom found out.” “Hmmm,” I replied. “How do you feel about having sex at 15? Do you think that’s a good idea?” And so we talked about that for awhile and how having a baby before you even have underarm hair is likely not good timing. We talked about how a teenage dad would likely have to drop out of school for awhile and figure out how to pay for diapers and how that would suck.
Then we moved onto the topic of E-Cigarettes. “Sam has an E-Cig,” Adam says. “Oh really?” I reply. ”And how do you feel about that? Does that make you want to try one, too?” And so we batted this topic around for awhile, talking about the risks of E-cigarettes with my son assuring me that ”it’s just water vapor and not dangerous.” I countered with some concerns of my own. Things about why one would choose to start smoking an e-cig and how even these “non-cigarettes” can become addictive and that research is inconclusive about how much harm it’s doing to one’s body and that he’s likely better off spending his time on sports and school versus smoking e-cigs.
We moved from this topic as quickly as it began when Adam announced, “This girl in my English class had a bloody nose and so she stuffed a tampon up her nose.” ”Well….” I responded. “How did that go over in class?” He said, ”The teacher told her that a kleenex would be a better option.” I agreed.
That’s when the doctor showed up to tell us that yes, Adam had a broken thumb and proceeded to put a cumbersome splint on his forearm that he would likely need to keep on for 2-6 weeks, right through basketball tryouts but to let an orthopedic specialist make the final decision.
Did I want to spend a night in Urgent Care?
Do I really feel like adding yet another follow-up doctor appointment to an already crammed schedule?
Am I sorry he broke his thumb?
Yes. For him I am.
But there was a gift in the night. That something about being trapped in an exam room led to some funny, thoughtful conversations with my teenage son. And for that I’ll be grateful.