A few weeks back, while my daughter was at scout camp, she broke her elbow.
Let me rephrase that: About a month ago, while my daughter was with a group of friends in the woods, about an hour away from me, she fell down a hill and had a catastrophic injury.
The first phrasing is the succinct and accurate version of what happened. The second is what went through my mind the second I listened to the voicemail from one of the adults on the camping trip with the scouts as he told me they were considering taking my child to the hospital.
Look, I’m not a great parent, alright. I love my kids, and I try to do what I can to keep them happy and healthy and safe, but the reality is that I not only have no clue what I’m doing with regards to parenting, but I’m still prone to making all sorts of terrible decisions about my own life, much less am I capable of knowing how to make decisions for the three little ones who are in my care.
At the time that I received the phone call, I immediately wanted to overreact. After talking to the counselor as well as the medical staff at the camp, I actually started underreacting because everyone was pretty sure she had just had a relatively minor injury that they couldn’t get the swelling to stop on for some reason.
So, because I had plenty I needed to get done that day at work, I allowed my wife to go to be with our child while I sat at home and went through my daily business. I was definitely nervous about what had happened to my child, but at the same time, I tend to be the person who prefers to expect the best situation until I hear differently.
When the news came back that she had broken her elbow, all I wanted to do was to get her home and hold her and comfort her and try to figure out what way we could get through this injury with the least impact on her incredibly busy summer. Instead, she pleaded with my wife to let her go back and finish her week of camp. I didn’t get to see my daughter until four days later. And that whole week I was concerned for what she was going to look like coming back home.
Because we learned that not only did she break her elbow, but she was going to need surgery to put her elbow back together.
But when she got home, she was far more interested in talking about how this was going to impact her upcoming week at a different camp than she was about the surgery itself.
While I know that a part of this was due to her concerns about the surgery and how she wanted to avoid thinking about it, I also know that this was the truth. She was hurt, but wanted to look strong because she didn’t want anyone to know she was hurting.
It has now been over six weeks and she has finally been allowed to get out of her immobilization and I can’t help but be proud of how amazing she has been throughout this whole process. She didn’t allow her injury to stop her from doing anything she has wanted to do (although she’s definitely used it to get out of plenty of things she didn’t want to do). In fact, the only real impact it had on her summer is that she couldn’t swim.
And she did get to go to her second week of camp, even if we decided to delay it a couple weeks to make sure she didn’t have any complications from the surgery. But that didn’t stop me from spending that whole week worrying that she was going to break her other elbow…