At this point, C.J. isn’t exactly athletic. He’s good with rhythm and movement and loves gymnastics. He especially hated (or hates, depending on the day) riding his bike. He’s more Paul Hamm than Lance Armstrong (doping or not).
Last week we were outside riding bikes with the neighbor boys. C.J. is new to riding his bike with training wheels and just recently agreed to get on the thing without yelling “Too high! Too scary!” in rapid succession until removed.
The four boys were enjoying the freedom of the open road when C.J. crashed (it was more of a tip, but we’ll call it a crash here for dramatic purposes). I ran over to him and he lay, on his side in the same bike-riding position, hands on handlebars, feet on pedals. He did not try to break his fall. The thought, apparently, didn’t even cross his mind.
I got him and his bike to the curb as the tears stopped and he told me that he needed to lie down on the couch. Okay, easy enough, I laid him on the couch, turned on the T.V. and went to check on his brother. A few minutes later C.J. came out of the house with his right arm hanging lifeless at his side looking like Bob Dole. I joked with my neighbor that for preschool the next day I would dress him in a suit and put a pen in his hand.
Three hours of specialists, x-rays and C.J. strutting his stuff around the hospital in his favorite Viking hat with long blonde braids and an unzipped hoodie (I couldn’t get his t-shirt back on him after taking it off to evaluate him at home). We got lots of stares, as usual. And, C.J.’s brother’s irritability was increasing. The combination of seeing his brother in pain, waiting patiently in an uncomfortable chair for hours on end and people staring at us was more than he could take.
As we walked to the x-ray department, C.J. thrust his hips and head from side to side excessively to get his braids in full swing. He was wearing a hospital gown because I couldn’t get him to take it off because it was, after all, a gown. A mom in the x-ray department waiting room nudged her two children, pointed C.J. out to them and the whole family started laughing together. I saw red. I looked down and C.J.’s Brother was giving them an evil look that I didn’t know he had in him. They didn’t even notice. We sat down.
“Today isn’t a good day for us,” I said honestly. “But what is worse, C.J. being himself or those people being rude?”
“Both,” he mumbled without looking up.
I was thinking about how I usually try so hard to balance the wants and feelings of my two very different children but that was hard to do with one in pain and needing some extra attention. The x-ray technician called C.J.’s name.
May you never have to hold your child as they pop one of his/her dislocated bones back into its socket. They gave him an ibuprofen; I needed something stronger. After the cute, I mean qualified, doctor got the bone(s) back into place, he needed to test the range of motion. He grabbed a handful of superhero stickers and held them at different heights for C.J. to grab. C.J. was not about to exert effort for a superhero sticker.
“He doesn’t like superheroes,” I said. The doctor got up to leave the room in search of different stickers. “Get girl stickers,” I shouted after him.
“Who’s he going to give them to?” he asked as he turned back to me, like I thought that now was a good time to collect free stickers for the girls in our life.
“He likes girl stuff,” I said and motioned for the doctor to continue out of the room to get the stickers.
The next day I took C.J. to Target to get some meds and splinting supplies.
I usually say no, but, hell, this time the kid deserved a toy. After careful consideration, he selected a pink satin cheerleader uniform with silver sequins and a pink and white pom-pom. If C.J.’s brother thought that the blonde braids and hospital gown were embarrassing, he might not want to come home from the second grade today.
If you were to ask C.J., he might say that the cheerleader uniform was worth the dislocated elbow. He wore that uniform every minute that he was in the house for four days straight. Then it ripped and fell apart, because 15 dollar happiness only lasts so long.