Flip Flop

15 Oct 2021

My lovely teenage niece was on a school adventure day recently and she fell, one of those horrible falls where she broke her arm. She needed surgery with screws put in. Needless to say we were all worried sick about her and wishing her well. 

The memories flooded back for me. My son, when he was six, fell off the top of a slide. It was the first Friday back to school and a group of us took a picnic to the park. The sun shone and it promised to be the perfect afternoon. But life has a way of tripping us up and I will never forget running towards that slide to catch my son as he fell but of course, I didn’t. He fell onto his elbow and his scream, my blood ran cold. I somehow drove to a medical clinic with my howling son and my tearful daughter. Many X-rays later, they sent us to the Children’s Hospital. His elbow was dislocated, broken and needed surgery. A friend collected my daughter and brought her to stay with my sister. It was going to be an all-nighter. We had to wait hours for the surgery and my son was in dreadful pain and all I could do was soothe him with stories. Finally, they brought him into Theatre. The doctor allowed me to stay by his side until he was under anaesthetic and then I was gently pushed out the door and handed his shoes. 

It was 9pm and the old hospital was quiet. I wandered around the corridors, holding his little blue runners with velcro straps. I felt so helpless. Guilty. Scared. I felt for parents whose children were ill, seriously ill. My boy’s arm would heal. How do parents cope with a seriously ill child? The weight of parenting alone fell heavily on my shoulders that day, that night, the following weeks. I had friends. I had family. I had kindness around me. But ultimately, this was on me.

The surgery was a success. He was sore and ravenous when he woke up. He was in a cast and was not allowed to attend school for a week. It was the first time I ever asked work could I move deadlines. I needed to care for my boy. And mind my girl of course. So, I took a rare week off and we went to the beach daily and he invented a card game that he named Flip Flop (like a quirky snap but with a LOT of rules!) and we played it every day, using only one hand each, and we laughed so much. After a week, he returned to school. Six weeks later, the cast came off and he was fine.

And my niece is already back at school with her cast. And with a story to tell. Because accidents happen. And nobody is to blame. Mother guilt - begone!! 

I asked my son what he remembers about his accident. He remembers the fall and he does remember being given the strawberry smelling anaesthetic but, most of all, he talked about how we played one-handed Flip Flop for a week and paddled in the sea…

Salt Water Mum

A Moodscope member.

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