Unlike Anthromama I didn’t have a stoic Swedish dad, but I did have a devout Christian Scientist dad. In light of his faith, Mom always found Dad’s behavior ironic, since he was always the first one of them to want to rush an injured child to the clinic. Mom, on the other hand, was more like Zygote Daddy, subscribing to the “wait 24 hours” treatment philosophy.
Hurt your leg, a la The King’s nephew? Wait 24 hours to see if anything happens. This is about what Sister #2 did after her oldest child had his leg pinned by the neighbor’s pig. Just like the King’s nephew, my nephew’s leg later turned out to be broken, but he was fine. So was the pig.
Get a soccer ball punted into your eyeball, as I did? Wait 24 hours to see if anything happens . . . or wait until Mom asked me, as I was lying on the couch, what happened. When I got to the part about not being able to open my eye for five minutes or so, she stopped cooking dinner and started asking some more questions that led to a trip to the clinic. Proving Steve’s point about communication, it was good that she asked, and listened to my answers, because it turned out that I had three pinholes in my retina and was in danger of having my retina detach. Fortunately, nothing has ever come of that, but I still have to get it checked every year.
Fall out of a friend’s tree and land with your head wedged between a concrete sculpture and a fence post and a gaping, bleeding wound on your chin? OK, for that one I went straight to the clinic. My friend and I had identical teddy bears, so one of my first questions from the back of the station wagon was, “Is this my Pooky?” Sister #2, riding up front with Mom said, “Yes.” After a minute I supposedly asked again, “Is this my Pooky?” Sister #2 said, “Yes. Speed up, Mom.” I supposedly asked that same question about 12 times in a 20 minute ride. I say “supposedly” because, due to my concussion, I still don’t recall anything between climbing in my friend’s tree and waking up later that night, lying on the couch as my family ate dinner. It wasn’t until even later, as Sister #1 read me “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” that I asked, “What’s this?” as I brushed the Band-Aid covering the six stitches in my chin. So, similar to, but unlike L.A. Daddy, who didn’t reveal the extent of his injuries to his daughter, my parents had to decide what to reveal to me about the severity of my accident and the extent of my injuries, since I didn’t remember anything about it. As you know from reading this account, they told me everything.
It’s likely this open communication throughout my upbringing that leads me to agree with all of you, including Samantha Jo, who said that open communication is the key to dealing with parents’ and kids’ injuries. I hope that communication will help me bridge the gap between Mom’s “wait 24 hours” philosophy, which is engrained in me, and my first-time parent jitters, which will have me dialing 911 before 3B starts crying. Perhaps those aren’t jitters, they’re just Dad’s parenting nature coming out in me now that I’m a dad too.
If so, that would be funny after all these years of my trying to understand Dad’s faith and its effects on me–I did go to Christian Science Sunday School until I flunked out at age 13. Over the years, I’ve come to see how, although I didn’t have his faith, I had interpreted and internalized Dad’s beliefs about illness, injury, and health in a way that fit in rather neatly with Mom’s philosophy. As a result, I ended up doing what appeared from the outside to be walking off or sucking up in response to most illnesses and injuries. This was not an attempt to show my machismo–after all, those who know me well would only laugh at such an effort–but to focus on the root cause, rather than the symptoms, to hopefully recover faster.
This brings me back to my final question: “What is the best way to inculcate healthy habits in my child?” Anthromama offered “Be healthy yourself.” The King suggested breaking a leg, so that in recovery it would grow stronger and I could make millions as a kicker.
I think the King’s way is easier . . . but more on that in an upcoming post.
For now, my back is feeling somewhat better–I can sometimes reach my feet now–and I thank you all for your thoughtful comments, which helped me sort out my thoughts on this, and for your kind words, which helped me feel better.
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