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Growth Spurts: A Tough Break

“Mama, come quick! Callie hurt her arm!,” Katie ran to tell me. Our family was attending an M-Braves game with another family, and the kids had gone off to play in the grass behind center field. Since I was in my seat on the third base line, it took me a couple of minutes to make my way over to my 12-year-old daughter Callie. When I got there, I was surprised to find her surrounded by a small group of people–one man, in particular, was down on the ground beside her, holding her arm very still and talking to her calmly. Fortunately, he was a former EMT, and he had been standing nearby when Callie’s cartwheel went wrong.

“I’m pretty sure her arm is broken,” he told me. And he proceeded to have his wife call 911 while he made sure Callie stayed still and calm. However, while Callie’s body may have appeared calm, her eyes said differently. I tried to focus on her face while this kind man and the other EMTs, who arrived shortly thereafter, did what they were trained to do. And each of us assured her that she would be okay.

Over the next five hours at the Emergency Room, Callie writhed as each wave of pain came through her. It’s a terribly helpless feeling for a parent to watch their child experience pain and not be able to do anything about it. The medicine seemed to help some, but it wasn’t enough. My younger daughter Katie was with us, too, and she cried as she watched her big sister in anguish.

As it turned out, Callie had broken both bones in her right forearm and earned herself a cast for the summer. The fun part: she got a glow-in-the-dark cast, has acquired lots of signatures on the cast, and has gotten lots of attention from friends and strangers alike. She also gets to brag about how she reset her own bones. (It’s true! She said that she looked down and saw that her arm didn’t look right, so she popped it back into place. Selfishly and squeamishly, I’m glad I wasn’t there to see that part.) But that’s pretty much the entirety of the “fun” that comes with a broken arm in the summertime.

In addition to not being able to get in the swimming pool, Callie also can’t write or ride her bike or even put her hair in a ponytail by herself. And this is really, really hard for Callie, because she loves being independent and doing things for herself. And I’ve always been more than happy for her to be that way. But you know what? I think this has actually been a good learning experience for both of us.

Callie has had to learn to depend on others for help, which is an important lesson for everyone, in my opinion. When we get to feeling too self-sufficient, we start feeling proud and isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. It’s humbling to have to seek help from others, and it’s healthy and good to do so.

Callie has also had to learn how to slow down and how to improvise. She’s had to overcome feelings of self-pity when she sees her brother and sister head to the neighborhood pool. And she’s had to come up with different ways to spend her time. I am proud of how well she has handled all of this.

As for me, I’ve been reacquainted with helping my firstborn with some everyday tasks, such as taking care of her hair and helping her with some of her meals. I don’t offer help immediately, because I know she still likes to try to do things on her own, but I do ask her. And she’s gotten better about accepting my help.

I think that both of us have enjoyed my helping her take care of her hair. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy having their hair washed by someone else?! And the long, quiet minutes we’ve spent drying and brushing her hair have been good times of calm connection for both of us. Callie and I both tend to be task-driven, so this forced slowing down together has been therapeutic.

So while I hate that my daughter has a broken arm, I’m thankful for the ways that it has brought us closer together.

 

Carrie Bevell Partridge would like to thank Dr. John Purvis of the University of Mississippi Medical Center for being such a great orthopaedic doctor!

About The Author

Carrie Partridge

Carrie Bevell Partridge grew up in Memphis, TN with her parents and four siblings. She attended Mississippi College, where she met her husband Kevin. They have been married for 20 years and have five children. They live in Ridgeland, MS. Carrie has written the “Growth Spurts” column and managed social media for Parents & Kids Magazine since 2011. You can read more of her work at carriebevellpartridge.com and Facebook.com/carriebevellpartridge.

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