The end of summer arrived with a bang at our house. Perhaps "crack!" is more accurate. My husband and I were watching The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, concentrating intently on reading the subtitled film, when the phone rang.
"Mrs. Johnson?" said my son's girlfriend. "Uh oh," I thought. The two of them and a few of their friends had headed up to Sky High, a popular trampoline/sporting center to have "one last summer fling." I signed the waiver and sent them off with my usual words: "Be safe, make good choices, and let me know if you have any fun." I even thought ahead to have them designate a texter for the driver, a fabulous, brilliant young man who has a bad habit of texting while driving.
But this was not texting accident. "[My son] was doing a flip into the foam pit and hit his eye. It's swollen and bruised."
"Do we need to come up and meet you guys there?" I said.
"Well, we were thinking we probably should take him to the emergency room. He's not looking too good."
"OK. Good idea. We'll meet you there," I said very calmly.
Sparing you too many gory details, this apparently very impressive double front flip resulted in 5 broken bones in my son's face, courtesy of his knee. He spent several hours in the ER and a night in the hospital on an I.V. and with a pain pump.
At home the next day, his recovery progressed quickly. Ice, rest, lots of attention (though I limited visitors), and lots and lots of prayers seemed to buoy his spirits, even if he couldn't yet open his eye. He even tried to get me to let him "stop by" a birthday party he was "supposed to go to." No has become my favorite word.
I marvelled at his:
b) lack of life experience
c) lack of previous serious injuries (thanks be to God), and
d) lack of pre-frontal cortex development
that all combined to create a much lesser sense of urgency and need for recovery in him than I had for him.
All in all, I have had a few moments to reflect, in between doctor's appointments to confirm the healing is going well and there's no permanent damage. I am thankful I am one of the Americans who is blessed to have really great health insurance. I am grateful for my husband who diligently works at the job that provides the health insurance. I am blessed to have a son who has such a positive attitude and heals quickly. And I am thankful to have the opportunity to chat with him about slowing down a bit. It's his senior year in high school, that magical, pivotal year that rushes by so quickly. Instead of cramming it full, I suggested, take some time to savor it, process it, enjoy it on a deeper level than rushing from one activity to the next.
Good advice, huh? And some that many of us parents would do well to heed. The parenting of our children rushes by, even though there are moments when it feels endless and relentless and we sigh our sighs and growl our growls and lament the consequences of adolescent brain development. In the end, they will leave, one way or the other, and we will be left to assess what we did well and what could have gone better. And to remain connected, respecting their adult status, and offering help when needed.
And so, I am practicing the savoring, too this year. Even the stay in the hospital and visits to so many doctors I ended Tuesday fairly frazzled. It's time to stay connected to family and friends, to reminisce and savor, to grieve and celebrate. And live. Fully, completely, and with as much awareness as I can muster. Before I know it, this year will be over for me too. Hopefully, we'll go out with a celebratory Bang! and no more cracks.