The First Fracture Ever (Remembered)

I don't remember the pain or even which bone I broke. I don't remember how old I was or if I had started school yet, (but I think I was in elementary school). I don't remember what the cast looked like or how long I was in it for. For that first fracture I ever remember, I only recall what I was doing:

It must have been around summer time because I was laying on the mat my mom always used during the summer. Even if it was 90 degrees and muggy out this mat always felt cool against my skin. There could have been glimmering crystal clear water tempting me for a swim right next to me but it wouldn't matter - if the mat was out, I always stayed within its borders. 

On that particular summer afternoon it was no different. My mother had rolled out the mat at the end of our driveway and I was sprawled out on it. There were picture books stacked next to me and a few feet away the adults in my family were starting to set up a summer barbecue. I don't remember what my older brother was doing, he was probably riding his red bicycle around our cul-de-sac neighborhood or playing badminton with the boy across the street. My brother and the older boy used the jagged horizontal crack in the pavement that stretched across our street as a marker for the pretend net, whacking the little birdie over it for hours on end. 

Our next door neighbors that lived to the left of us had two kids, a boy and a girl - C and S. They were much younger than my older brother but they were somewhere around my age, and once in awhile they would saunter over to our driveway and strike up a conversation - timidly of course.
It was pretty obvious that my parents were fiercely over protective of me. Before they'd ever let me go play outside they always warned me to not play with the neighborhood kids unless my older brother was around, or they reminded me to always stay on the mat. I was only ever allowed to ride my tricycle up and down our side of the street, and that was only if an adult was outside watching me.
At the time I hadn't figured out what to tell other kids, I had only figured out that it was 'adult talk.' I knew that I had osteogenesis imperfecta and I knew that this meant my bones were fragile, that it was the reason why I was in a manual wheelchair, and it was also why I was so much smaller than other kids. But all of that information had only ever been spoken to adults. Even if I wasn't doing the talking, I had never seen another adult explain to a child, outside of my own family, what O.I. was or what it meant. And of course at that point I never had the occasion to inform another child my own age. But on that summer afternoon it was all about to change -- 

S, our neighbor's son, came over to our driveway and plopped himself down on my mat. He grinned at me, his mouth had a bright red ring around it from a cherry flavored popsicle he had just polished off. 
"Hi" I said shyly. I remember I looked around for someone in my family to either step in or tell me what to do, but I saw no one. 
"Whatcha doin'?" He asked me. 
"Just watching this caterpillar crawl around." 
"Oh. I like silk worms, ever seen a silk worm before? My Nana told me they spin real silk, you can find them in the trees and they just hang on this real thin piece of silk." He stood up and began searching for this silk worm creature in the apple tree that we were sitting underneath. I tried to ignore him and went back to watching the velvety looking caterpillar scrunch up its body and then stretch out again, fascinated by the blue, black, and green pattern that elegantly covered its entire body.
"My sister says you can't walk or stand" he suddenly blurted out. 

As if she heard her younger brother mention her name, C came whizzing up behind him on her bike. She folded her arms under her chin and rested them over the handlebars of her bike and looked down at me. The wind made the shiny pompoms that sprouted from either end of her bike's handlebars shimmer and rustle a bit, like they were beckoning me to hurry and answer. 
"So is it true then? You can't walk or stand?" S had now jammed his hands in his pockets and was rocking back and forth on his feet, his older sister cocked her head to one side and looked at me like you better answer his question

It has happened too long ago now so I don't remember what was going through my head, or my thought process. But I do vaguely remember my response. I tried to explain to them that I needed leg braces to help me walk and stand, that I can too walk and stand, so "no, it's not true that I can't." 
"Then show us. How come we've never seen you do it?" 

The next series of events are all a blur to me now, but I remember getting myself into a kneeling position -- one leg bent underneath me and the other leg bent at the knee, ready to push up just like my physical therapist and I had been practicing for months. But the only difference was that this time I was not in a physical therapy session, I did not have my leg braces on, I didn't have my walker in front of me, there was no one around except me and these two kids I was trying to prove wrong. I wanted them to see the truth. I wanted to show them how proud I was to have recently learned how to walk and get into a standing position. But then instead of wobbling up to a stand, I wobbled off balance and fell to my side, and ended up screaming for my mother. 
The only thing I remember after that was my older brother appeared on the scene, he looked at the neighborhood kids and said,
"See? Look, now look at what you guys did!" He glared at them and then was off running inside the house to get my parents. 

After that incident I learned at a young age that answering every curious question was never worth the pain that I could wind up in. I also became a bit precocious from then on, I grew up preferring to associate with adults - never believing that other kids my age would "ever get it." Or that they were simply too dumb and narrow minded. It took quite some time and many amazing friends in my life to allow me to trust kids my own age again, but this is also why I hold my friends close to me and why they know me so well. 

Kids will be kids:
  • I am sure that every parent reading the above story is freaking out, and probably promising themselves that they won't ever let their O.I.'er child out of sight. But c'mon now let's be real, don't make false promises
  • I have thought about this incident time and time again, and no I don't regret the fact that my parents didn't sit me down and tell me "this is what you need to tell kids your own age..." Even if they did that I'm not sure things would have been any different. I have a very stubborn personality and probably would have wanted to prove those two kids wrong anyway
  • At such a young age many children will probably find it difficult to understand why they need to be careful. "You'll get hurt if you try to do things other kids do" ... I challenge any one to tell that to a child without any wincing or tears
  • This was also a lesson in being confident in myself. I left the situation with a broken bone and a cast, but I also knew that it doesn't matter what the neighborhood kids thought of me - or quite frankly, what anyone does 
  • You can't be there for every minute or for every incident. I don't hate my parents for not having been around to tell the neighborhood kids off, and I don't resent my older brother for not having arrived on the scene earlier. The situation is what it is, and what happened happened -- that's it. But! You should know that I am able to have that mentality because Idid not grow up expecting my parents to be around 24/7 

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