5.16.2011

broken things

"Mama, I was so sad when I broke my arm," said her little one, over bites of yogurt at the breakfast table.

"Oh, yes, that made me sad, too. What about it made you sad?" Mama asked gently, not wanting to press but curious about why her daughter had brought up her broken arm again. She'd mentioned it a few times lately, the idea that breaking her arm had made her sad. The arm had been broken more than six months ago, in a cast for Halloween. And a cool Halloween cast it was, purple with glow-in-the-dark stripes. Just perfect for the Tiniest Witch.

"Well I was sad because I couldn't sleep when I had my broken arm," was today's little-girl explanation. "My cast hurt me. I couldn't sleep." Yes, sleeping had been more difficult. Mama herself had been bonked out of a deep sleep by that cast more than once.

"Mama, if I break another bone they'll take me away from you, right?" the little-girl lilt in her question more urgent than that accompanying the ordinary barrage of questions ending with "right?"

"What? What did you ask me?" said her Mama, as the question lodged itself deep in her midsection. "What was that?"

"Gramma said if I break another bone, the doctors are gonna take me away from you. Is that true?" 


Her big brother was now looking up from his reverie at the breakfast table, as well, waiting for an answer. Two beautiful children, looking for all the world like kittens in this moment, had their eyes firmly locked on their mother, who usually had the answers, waiting for an answer.

It was something she worried about, without a doubt. When your baby girl breaks her arm before she's even two years old, then breaks her leg for her second birthday, and then breaks her other arm at four years old, yes indeed, the spectre of Children's Services and their power weighs heavy on your mind. When you're referred to a famous children's hospital for batteries of tests to rule out bone disease or other horrors, it's very much on your mind. But those are adult concerns, not burdens a child should carry.

"Baby, oh, love, you don't have to worry about that, oh please don't worry about that. No one is ever ever going to take you away from me and Daddy. Never. Do you understand? No one, never. You're all mine!" And she gathered her little one up for the closest of hugs, her face wrapped in her daughter's delicious hair, in the warmth of her neck.

The next day, idly wheeling in the kitchen again while Mama washed the dishes, the little one spun herself right off the Sit-n-Spin and quite nearly cracked her her head on the counter. "Watch it, love," warned Mama, "Maybe standing on that thing isn't the best idea. You could get hurt, or break your toy."

"Yeah, you're right, Mama. And the doctors will take it away if I break it."
My prompt in this week's Indie Ink writing challenge came from Seeking Elevation: "Write about the experience of a child uncovering a truth about the adult world."