It started with dog poo.
My daughter was running and jumping and skipping along, as she does.
She did some sort of beautiful ballet leap and landed straight in the middle of some dog poo.
Why did she do that? Why didn’t she see it?
‘I thought it was mud.’
So she dragged her shoes on the grass and they looked OK, but I wasn’t letting them in the house. So they sat outside the front door.
The next morning, she put her shoes on outside the front door. And I shut the door ready to set off for school. And it wouldn’t budge. And there was a strange noise. And I realised what I’d done.
She didn’t cry. Not at first.
Then she screamed. She screamed and screamed and screamed. I’d never heard her scream like it before. There were tears. Lots of them. Clearly, she wasn’t going to school. Not at that minute, anyway.
Her brother set off on his own.
And we sat down and I held her as she screamed and the tears and snot went everywhere. And she still had her violin attached to her back. We’d left a trail of stuff – my headphones and running belt, her water bottle and book bag. And our shoes. We’d taken them off to avoid messing up the carpet, even in all the panic.
Daddy didn’t answer the phone. The builder offered to help. I was going to send him to find my husband. And still my daughter screamed. She wanted Grandma. Grandma would freak at the sight of her and the sound of her. She hates to see the kids in distress even more than I do. I rang Grandma to find Daddy and we sat there and waited. The two of us wrapped around each other, both crying.
It was broken, for sure. Nothing else could make her cry that much.
There was a nasty bruise across the nail. She couldn’t look at it. I put frozen peas on it, but she said it felt worse. So we just sat there and cried together.
Daddy and Grandma brought Calpol and cuddles and words of reassurance, combined with shock. The screaming subsided to silent tears.
The two of us drove to hospital. Again. She’d been to the physio last week. She had an appointment with the paediatrician the next day and an MRI scan the following day. I’d had a pain killing injection there last week and had an appointment with the dermatologist later in the week. We were always at the damn hospital.
She found the walk from the car hard. She was shaking and felt cold. I worried she was going into shock. So I picked her up and carried her, to keep her warm.
The doctor didn’t think it was broken. It was bruised and swollen and painful, for sure. He could see where it was injured – right at the bottom of the nail. But it was the tip that hurt. It even felt weird to me when I touched it.
There was a light grey shadow on the X-ray. Maybe it was the nail? There certainly wasn’t an obvious break to me. But what do I know? I’m not medically trained. I can’t read X-rays.
The Calpol had kicked in. My daughter was feeling calmer. It was badly bruised. She’d be strapped up and we’d go back to school, both feeling a bit silly for over-reacting.
‘Well, you’ve broken it.’
The light grey shadow? That was the break.
I felt sick and upset all over again, the obligatory hospital vending machine Doritos churning up inside me. I’d broken my own daughter’s finger. Not deliberately, of course. But it was still me. I still felt it was my fault.
The injury wasn’t where he’d expected to see it – it wasn’t the bruised nail. It was the very tip of the finger. He’d never seen a break there before. But it was exactly where my daughter had said it hurt.
My daughter wasn’t upset by having a break. Not at that point, anyway. No doubt there will be upset to come. She was cheerful, hyper almost. I think it was the adrenaline kicking in. She was chatting away happily.
She had her badge of honour. Her first break. Her fingers were strapped together and she went off to school. She hadn’t been skiving. She hadn’t just badly bruised her fingers. She’d broken something and, when you’re 9, that’s cool.
For me, not so much. I’d broken my daughter and I felt sick.