My daughter’s right leg is currently in plaster. Before the age of two she has suffered a fractured metatarsal, damage to a bone in her foot. It is a common injury in professional footballers and dancers.
She incurred her damage jumping off the bed.
“Mummy called the doctor and the doctor and the doctor said, ‘No more monkeys jumping on the bed.'” I know, I know. But she wasn’t even bouncing up and down on the mattress. She was simply sitting on the edge of the bed, making faces at herself in the mirror, with her legs dangling down, and I was right beside her.
Then she decided to slide down the six inches to the floor and she simply landed badly. She was obviously in a lot of pain and once the tears subsided she tried to stand and they started again. A dose of painkillers and an hour later she still refused to put weight on her right foot. So off we were to Accident and Emergency, not for the first time in her short life. And three hours later she left covered in bandages and stickers, with a big grin on her face.
From a parenting perspective I did everything I could… after impact.
But could I have prevented this ‘accident’?
Just like her clumsy mother, she is always tripping and bumping. Grazed knees, a chipped front tooth, fat lips, eggs on the head – she’s had them all. And now this.
What more could I (should I?) be doing?
I have joked about covering her in bubble wrap. Or making her wear one of those inflatable Sumo suits. Encasing her in a Zorb like The Boy In The Bubble. But there was a moral to that tale.
Must I hover ever closer to my child as she explores the world and try to hold her back in case of unforeseen dangers?
Stop her trying to climb the steps to the big slide? Keep her from running off ahead in the park? Rein in her inquisitive nature and tame her adventurous spirit?
She long ago found her independence and she relishes every chance to exercise it – taking great pleasure in ordering, “Mummy, away!”, when she wants to do things herself.
As for being an invalid, she is certainly taking it in her stride. She is not in any pain while she is not putting weight on her foot and has quickly adapted to life in plaster – crawling or knee-walking about as determinedly and as intrepidly as ever.
I don’t think I need to be circling any closer than I already am.
There are plenty of things I do tell her not to do because they are dangerous. I’d describe myself as a moderately relaxed parent, but it’s not like I hand her a pair of scissors and shout, “Ready, steady, go!”
My daughter is finding her own way in the world and I have decided to keep observing from a distance.
I can’t always be there to catch her. But I can be there to kiss it better.
And for the record – for this little monkey – there will be more jumping on the bed.