With the advent of the new year I had been seeing all of these carpe diem slogans, along with vaguely scary admonitions that life can change in the blink of an eye. Ten days ago, shortly after I’d dropped my little one off at school, I received a call from the nurse telling me I needed to come get my child because her arm was broken. She wasn’t crying but said that her pain level was at a 10. By the time I got there she was paler than paste, shivering and huddled under a blanket that had been wrapped carefully around her, and her eyes were rolling intermittently back in their sockets. In that second I experienced something of what my mother must have felt when I was in kindergarten and came home with a severed finger: abject terror and complete helplessness. Emergency x-rays showed her elbow was indeed broken. She was placed in a temporary cast and sling and she saw a pediatric orthopedist two days later. Her arm was still incredibly swollen and they put her in another temporary cast to allow for the swelling to subside. I kept her in her sling except during sleep and felt confident the bone would not move. After all, there was only a 20 to 30 percent chance that it would; if it did it would require surgery. I was absolutely stunned when they removed her cast a week later and another x-ray revealed a much bigger gap between her small bones, meaning of course that they’d moved. I did not write my usual blog on Sunday; instead I elected to play endless rounds of My Little Pony’s Candy Land with my little one and this silly game where a fox puts chickens in his pants. When his pants finally fall down, the first to get their chickens back to their coop wins. I read more books with her, played more with her, and made up more stories for her. I found time slowed, and my father always taught me that time is the one thing that cannot be replaced. Early this morning my little six year old underwent major surgery and had two steel pins placed through her little bones to hold them properly in place. Next week her arm will go into a hard cast for at least a month and at some point she will have it removed, along with the pins protruding from her elbow. The Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer is quoted as having said:
”Sometimes we know the best thing to do, but fail to do it. New year’s resolutions are often like that. We make resolutions because we know it would be better for us to lose weight, or get fit, or spend more time with our children. The problem is that a resolution is generally easier to break than it is to keep.”
Prior to this I’d dusted off last year’s resolutions, which included everything mentioned above and more. While I was striving to do more, be more, and add more into my life I learned an invaluable lesson from my precious little one … all it took for me to see it was a break.