Posted by: Kate | November 10, 2008

Your Daughter

Yesterday, as I pulled into the driveway after a failed massage and a successful lunch out, several noteworthy points were immediately evident.

One was the presence of my husband in the front yard, raking the leaves.  The leaves which had all been raked just a few weeks ago, and then the trees decided to just keep on giving and the wind blew and a storm wandered through, and suddenly the grass was just as hidden as though we’d never raked in the first place.

I hate raking.  I love when my husband does it so that I don’t have to.

Another point was the presence of our son, scampering around and poking things with sticks and generally being four.

A related point was the absence of our daughter.  She was nowhere to be seen, but her bike was all askew on the driveway, amidst several soccer-practice cones (and more leaves).  Since I had left the house with the sounds of the “I’m Going to Rake Leaves Today, and I’m Going to Need Your Help” chorus ringing through the house, I had an immediate and sinking suspicion about what I would encounter upon disembarking from the minivan.  I expected to hear a story beginning with the words “Your daughter,” and it is almost never a good story when the protagonist is presented in terms of their primary relationship to me.

Sure enough, my daughter had been attempting to create an obstacle course for her bike with the traffic cones, and one of the turns was a bit more of an obstacle than she had intended.  She landed elbow-first on the driveway, and in the space of twenty steps from there to the door, she announced, “I hurt my arm.  I think it’s broken.  I’m never going to ride a bike again!”  Although, with her, there was a lot more moaning and drama and angst than can be properly expressed in words and italics and punctuation.

We have a philosophy, here, with Emily; a rubric for grading the seriousness of an injury.  The louder she is, the less worried we feel.  If she sounds as though someone is tearing her limb from limb and then beating her bruised, bloody torso with the recently-separated limbs, then we’re confident that she’s fine.  If she gets quiet and withdrawn, then we become concerned.

Last night, she was loud.  Much drama, and then melodrama, and then some angst.  We gave her Tylenol and some ice, and when she fell asleep about 40 seconds after lying down for the night, we thought she would wake up today all healed and ready to develop some new injury.

Instead, she woke up this morning pale and sore, with no visible bruising or swelling at the elbow but a complete unwillingness or move or straighten that arm.  After watching her for a bit, I got the kids ready and off we went to Urgent Care.  An xray and exam later, and she was found to have a hairline fracture at the elbow.

I don’t feel guilty for waiting a day to take her to see a doctor, because it really was a very subtle, uncertain kind of injury.  And Emily and I had a long talk today about the importance of accurate communication; this experience was the actual living embodiment of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” and I suggested to her that perhaps in the future she might want to tone down her response to the little stuff such that we can actually take it seriously when the big stuff comes along.

I won’t pretend for a second that she actually internalized that conversation, and honestly I would be a little disturbed if she did.  Her flair for drama and intensity is part of what makes her Emily, and I do love my Emily.  Cast and all.



  1. I suspect that I was a lot like Emily when I was growing up… I broke my toe on Christmas Day while fooling around with my cousins and it took my mother a week of my hobbling around before she took me to get it checked on.

    Poor baby. I hope that she has a speedy recovery and enjoys the attention the cast will bring her! We love your Emily too!

  2. I enjoyed reading this blog. Of our three children our middle one initiated more trips to the emergency room than the other two combined. Even as a child he lived life on the edge. With him, a complaint was usually worthy of serious attention. Emily’s melodrama amused me. I have taught many children who could easily audition for the soaps. You may have an actress there. 🙂
    I hope her arm heals quickly.

  3. heeheehee! I wasn’t much different than Emily, though I broke a lot of partsgrowing up. I remember my Senior year of college I broke my toes and part of my upper foot. The whole thing was black and my father swor I was fine, “this is what happens when you get under a horse with thongs on.” After a whole week I finally went to my doc and had it checked surely it wasa BIG mess and I got to graduate from college with the world’s ugliest boot on my foot, limping cross the stage. Sometimes I think my parents just didn’t want me drivingthe new pick-up, it ws an automatic, rather the 1978 3 speed onthe floor with a sticky clutch. 😉
    I hope Emily feels better soon, get her something good for the itchies because those were the worst when I broke my elbow in 4th grade.
    BTW how is th head doing from your roller blade incident?

  4. With my boys, sometimes it would take several days before the fracture would show up on x-ray. Hairlines are odd that way. I think you did exactly what you should have done. What color cast? Riley’s is red this time.

    Tell Emily she can take a sharpie to school so her pals can print their names on her cast.

  5. I broke my wrist (I heard it crunch when I landed badly on a backbend) at the age of 10. I went in the house and calmly told my parents it was broken. They didn’t believe me until it swelled up to about double its’ original size. They felt so bad about waiting that the next time I broke my wrist (left one this time) at 13 or so, they took me to the ER right away. LOL.

  6. Ouch! Poor E! I know how she feels, and like you I waited to go to the doctor (for myself, ;))

  7. Poor Emily! I hope she heals soon.

  8. Hairline fractures are tricky. It sounds like you made the right call under the circumstances even though it did mean a delay. Since I had a tendancy to be a DQ when I was younger, I totally understand.

  9. Yep right call there. I found that mine were truly poorly when they made the least noise! Well she’ll be a hero now, especially with a cast!

  10. When my son was 2 1/2 he jumped off his desk and hurt himself while playing “Geronimo” with his older sister. He screamed and cried, refused to walk but otherwise looked perfectly fine.

    2 days later when he’s still refusing to walk and screaming when I try to stand him up, I take him to Urgent Care where it took 3 doctors and much squinting to see the very tiny crack just under his left knee. No bruising or swelling for him either.

    I don’t feel bad for waiting either. I know if there was an obvious problem it would’ve been taken care of right away. Honestly, I just thought he had really really hurt himself. I was almost right. 😉

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