My mom called me on April 19th to tell me that Lauren and my nephew Harrison were on their way to the emergency clinic because they suspected Harrison had a fracture. The day before, Harrison and my brother-in-law Brian had been playing tag. As my mom put it, Brian was running off the large concrete steps in their backyard with Harrison at his heels. In a last-ditch effort to catch Brian, Harrison jumped off the steps. He flew through the air. Brian refused to be caught, and sped up and out of Harrison’s reach, while Harrison landed hard on his side on the concrete. Brian, to spread the news to family and friends in a post that made us all giggle, captured his feelings in the following caption: “What happens you when you try to play tag in our household, haha jk. He dove trying to tag me and landed on his shoulder fracturing his collarbone over the weekend. No more tag in his foreseeable future. Glad he’s ok! P.S. he didn’t tag me, I’m still not it! #NotIt #tag #slinglife.” Brilliant! Luckily Harrison’s bone wasn’t displaced. He was sent home in a sling instead of a cast.
I have yet to break a bone, but I have been a toddler. My sister and dad kept the competitive spirit alive in our house. I aligned more with my maternal grandma’s philosophy—everyone should feel like a winner. She insisted on equality for all her grandkids and does the same today for her great grandkids. All of her grandkids would get the same number of presents at Christmas. As we grew up, we would get the same dollar amount. It’s not surprising, then, that my first injuries didn’t come from competition. They were my own doing. All it took for me to injure myself was my own vivid imagination, a couch, and a chair.
When I was almost 3 years old, I knew all it took to fly was jumping off our couch. If I wished for it hard enough, I was sure to bounce off the cushions and soar like a bird. I climbed on our couch cushions, crouched on my little legs, and took a leap of faith. My two-and-half-year-old mind wasn’t enough to fight gravity. My right elbow was the first to hit the ground. I screamed as the pain tore through my whole body. I couldn’t fly, and I wasn’t invincible. Hard day for a 2 ½ year old. “It’s dislocated,” the doctor said as he grabbed hold on either side of my elbow to push it back in place. I screamed and cried the whole time. But, like a toddler who believed anything was possible, I had to try again. Back to the couch cushions I went! Then, back to the hospital for another dislocated elbow. This time, the doctor showed my dad how to reset it himself. My dad paid attention but also hoped he wouldn’t have to use the medical training. Boy was he wrong. Third times a charm. I gave myself a pep talk, “You can do anything. Believe in yourself.” Up, up, and down to the floor. My dad ran in the room to find me holding my elbow and screaming. Trying to avoid yet another hospital visit and an unnecessary visit from Child Protective Services, he grabbed hold of my arm to reset it himself. I looked him right in the eyes. I had crocodile tears in my eyes and was wailing. My red, crying face was too much for him to take. He couldn’t bear to reset it on his own. This time, he drove me to a different hospital. I finally was discouraged and distracted enough to give up flying. I stuck to the swing set in our backyard to feel the wind beneath me.
When I was Harrison’s age, I took falling for someone quite literally. I went to a daycare in Rowlett, Texas. For lunchtime, every student would gather in the cafeteria. We would walk through the lunch line with our trays before walking to our table. We would then plunk down in the dark blue plastic chairs. The tops of the chairs were made of a hard plastic. Four metal legs were bolted on the bottom. I was holding my full lunch tray, walking around the cafeteria looking for a seat, when I locked eyes on my crush. Just as we were about to make eye contact, my foot caught on a metal chair leg. One hand stayed glued to my lunch tray. I lifted the other arm to shield my face from the floor. My eyes stayed looking up. I was a tangled mess. My chin hit the top of my arm. I stood up, looked down, and wiped myself off. I didn’t cry. Instead, I simultaneously tried to laugh it off, wondered exactly what just happened, and foolishly hoped my crush hadn’t witnessed the fall. I finished wiping my pants and shirt and looked up to see the horrified faces of the kids around me. “Okay, guys,” I thought, “It was just a fall.” They then pointed to the floor and my shirt. My classmates started screaming and crying and pointing at me. As I had lifted my head, blood dripped down the front of my shirt and onto the floor. I couldn’t see where it was coming from. The teachers rushed over as I started crying. What part of me was bleeding?! My bony arm didn’t cushion the fall like I hoped. The skin of my chin had split open. They called my parents who took me to a plastic surgeon. They numbed my chin with local anesthetic. I looked straight in their eyes while they sewed my chin. I’m proof that love can leave lasting scars.