Thursday, July 9, 2015

What My Two Year Old Teaches Me

I am emerging from the summer time suck long enough to pound out a blog post (I hope). As many of you know my two-year-old broke his first metatarsal (bone above the big toe joint) on Father's Day weekend. How did he break it, you ask? I have written previously about his penchant for climbing things and his lack of fear, so you would probably guess that he jumped off of something. It would also be reasonable to guess that he was injured at the kiddie gym where we held his brother's party and where he was actually allowed to jump on a trampoline and dive into a foam pit. These would be reasonable hypothesis, but they would be wrong. He broke his toe by tripping and falling over his own two feet. Landing on his hands and knees. In the kitchen. And I was hoping he didn't inherit the klutz gene from my side of the family. This gene really does exist. If you don't believe me try going on a hike with my family.

In any case, when the injury occurred it didn't look like much, until he tried to stand up and was unable to put weight on his foot. He continued crying about the pain and saying that he wanted "toe off". I knew something was wrong since he usually brushes off injuries as soon as they occur. As I got ready to take him to urgent care (because these things NEVER happen during regular doctors' office hours) my husband said, and I quote, "I don't think you need to take him in. I mean, it's a twisted ankle. It will be fine." He gently reminded me that I tend to be a hypochondriac by proxy and I gently reminded him that I have accurately diagnosed my children with pink eye and ear infections. Off to urgent care we went. After x-rays, they immobilized the foot with a double ace wrap and told me to keep him off of it until we could see the orthopedic specialist on Monday morning. You might think this would be problematic with an active two-year-old, but the next day his toe swelled up and turned bluish; he had no desire to put weight on it. While we felt sorry for him and bemoaned the occurrence of such a random accident had to occur and what if he was in a cast all summer, Elliott adapted to the situation by crawling and scooting around the house happily playing with his trucks. I think it is pertinent to add that I did NOT say "I told you so" to my husband. At least not out loud. Meanwhile, Aiden was jealous of his brother's "cool cast" and wanted to know if he could have a turn. Honestly, kids get jealous of the weirdest things. 

Fortunately, the orthopedic specialist did not have to cast Elliott's foot, but he traded his ace bandage in for a boot that he has to wear for 3 to four weeks at all times other than bathing. She warned me that it may take him some time to want to walk on it. As predicted, for the first day he wanted to be carried or crawled everywhere. By the second day he realized he could stand on his new boot and by the end of the second day he was back to running. It sounds like we are living with a pirate in high heels. Drag....clunk drag...clunk. Aiden asked if he could wear the ace bandage on his foot since Elliott had the super cool boot (I mean, how unfair, right?) but I told him that people might start to wonder about me if I was carting around two kids with immobilized feet at the same time. 

This is our first experience with broken bones, and with two boys it probably won't be the last. I was relieved that the treatment was easier than expected, and I was also reminded that we should all think more like toddlers. I am not saying we should start throwing tantrums about having to wear a shirt (not that that happened). But Elliott never lets anything get him down. Life threw a broken bone his way and he thought, "Okay, let's see how I can work with this". Well, more likely he thought, "I want that truck and I am going to get it," and, "This heavy boot is excellent for stomping on things that get in my way. Like toes." Regardless, he didn't waste time feeling sorry for himself or letting a pesky broken bone get in his way. Often when we are out and about people will say, "Awww, what happened to his poor little foot?" as Elliott runs past them, laughing. He doesn't feel the least bit sorry for himself.Then again, maybe they just wish they had a cool boot. I know Aiden does.

As parents, we are always talking and thinking about the thing we teach our kids. After all, we are their first and best teachers. But what we may not often realize is that they can be our best teachers, too. Elliott sees the world through a completely un-jaded lens. I strive to do what comes naturally to him, to take what life throws at me, adapt to it, and run with it. But it's easy to get stuck in a rut. It's easy to feel like when it rains it pours and not be able to see the rainbow. We all struggle with this. My children constantly teach me to live today, to splash in the muddy puddles and worry about cleaning up later. They constantly teach me things I don't know for lack of paying attention. Things like: grasshoppers make cool pets, a baby bunny hopping through the yard never gets less exciting, you never know when you might be recruited for an a capella career, so practice often, and road construction can be cool. Today I am trying to be more like Elliott (again minus the tantrums and toilet aversion). When we were at the pet store this morning he caught sight of some mice running around  and around in their wheel. He stopped at the glass tank to watch, and was soon in hysterics over their antics. I suppressed the urge to tell him to come on, and squatted down to watch with him. Two mice were running their hearts out in this metal wheel while one free loader clung to the metal rungs and held on while he was spun upside down. It was pretty amusing. What was I in a hurry for anyway? On the drive back we ran into a traffic jam due to a lane being closed on a major road. A road that I had taken to avoid the construction on another major road, incidentally. I thought, "Fuck this fucking construction!" Yes, that's how I talk in my own head. Out loud I said, "Look at the dump trucks Elliott? Isn't that cool?" Elliott was way ahead of me, his eyes glued to the machines doing who knows what to the road. He made sure to say hi to all the trucks and tell them to have a nice day. Finally, when we came home for lunch I decided to sit at the table while Elliott ate his grilled cheese sandwich and chicken (because he couldn't decide on just one) and read him the book he had asked me to read instead of rushing to clean up the dishes (really, where are they going?).

Of course, I can only strive to think like a toddler. Unfortunately we adults have been jaded by life. Sometimes it takes a little person to teach us that we can take what life throws at us. And that accountants aren't medical professionals. 
Elliott rockin his groovy boot
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