It happened on my way to Bristol on Friday. I received a text from my ex-wife, short and curt.
“Ben has had an accident at school, hurt his shoulder, off to collect him.
So you spend the next hour knowing nothing but running through all the scenarios from a small bump … and if it’s so minor, why ring for a parent to collect?…. to something more serious.
The following text,
“At school taking to A&E”
This was the most concerning as I think if it warrants A&E, why had the school not acted sooner? Is it my ex-wife being dramatic?
Then you calm down as you get the,
“In A&E” text, wait up to 2 hours”.
At that point, you know if it was serious it would have been dealt with quickly, and a child tends to get seen quickly if in pain.
It turned out my son had broken his collar bone where he had fallen playing rounders, and the bat had hit his shoulder, prognosis- six weeks in a sling and no exercise.
For me, I see a ‘rite of passage’ the first broken bone, something many children get from a fall or slip as they mature. What is interesting to me is how we deal with it as dads.
I was physically not there and not involved in the management of the incident. As such, I had to accept I could not control or influence the outcome, but I was surprised about my desire to understand what had happened and needing to try and find out who was responsible. The inner father looking for someone to blame or the reason pain was inflicted on my child was bought to surface. This quickly subsided when I got the facts surrounding the event. I can see why it is easy for people to take a ‘blame and claim’ approach to accidents, wanting to punish someone for the pain and upset, along with the feeling of inadequacy attached to not being able to stop your child getting hurt.
Sometimes children fall over, they have accidents and no one is to blame. The fact that some parents will seek to attribute blame is a sad reflection on society, they are often the same parents that will complain when teachers refuse to do school trips or take responsibility of after-school-clubs. The balance between giving a child a safe environment but also one where they can develop and grow by being able to take risks is, getting harder.
As a parent we have to accept the fact that children make mistakes and have accidents and they get hurt falling, resulting in a scratch or a broken wrist- all part of childhood. As I reflect on the incident, I wonder if it was the sense of being powerless to prevent the accident that frustrated me, the fact I wasn’t the one to deal with the issue, or the fact I am recognising my son is growing up.
What I do know is this, it won’t be the last injury my son ever inflicts upon himself. My job as a parent at the moment is to teach him to cope with not being able to do the sports he loves for six weeks, and help him find something productive to do and to learn that healing is a process you need to encourage and support in the same way you would learn a sport.
‘til next week and as always, your comments and experiences are appreciated.
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