Tuesday, 1 December 2009
The photograph you can see at the top of this blog of a child’s leg in a cast. This is my son, my youngest, my still-yet-to-be-one-year-old boy.
About three weeks ago he fell down the stairs at home and broke his leg. It is what the doctor’s call a ‘green stick’ fracture. The bones of babies are so new and malleable that they don’t break like an adult’s would. Instead imagine bending a green twig, rather than breaking in two, it will fray on the bend. This is the kind of break that Sam has. Or rather had because by the time you read this, the cast will be off, the leg will be mended and the guilt of the event might be fading.
As I write though the guilt of the event has not faded. I can still hear the thuds of his body falling against the steps. I can still see the tell-tale fleck of blood from the gash on the top of his head. I can still feel anxiety in the pit of my stomach as we realised that something was wrong with his leg. I am a Bad Parent, the sort that ends up on television being shouted at by Jeremy Kyle (actually, the list of reasons that I, or my family, might be on television being shouted at by Jeremy Kyle is growing by the day).
I couldn’t bring myself to write about this until now as I have felt the guilt of the Bad Parent for the last three weeks. Like the chains of Jacob Marley the plastered leg has served as an awful reminder that I’m a Bad Parent. Everywhere I turn I am confronted by the physical reminder of being a Bad Parent. Every time Sam tries to stand up and can’t, or crawl around and bashes his cast into something, or gets his massive leg stuck in his trousers when you’re undressing him, or has a wash because he can’t have a bath in case the cast gets wet I feel the guilt of a thousand Bad Parents burning into my soul. That’s if I have a soul, which clearly I don’t because I’m such a Bad Parent.
The one crumb of comfort seems to be that there are other Bad Parents out there, a whole load of them. Just type ‘my still-yet-to-be-one-year-old boy’s leg broke when he fell down the stairs’ into Google, or Bing (no search engine bias on this blog), and you receive more stories from other Bad Parents than you can possibly read. Neighbours and family have fallen over each other to regale me with the stories of the horrific injuries that their children have received. Injuries that have resulted in broken bones and busted teeth and hours and hours spent in casualty departments. Try it out with your friends, the second you mention an injury that has happened to your kid, prepare yourself for a list of even worse things that have happened to other people's sproglets. It's like being in a version of Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen sketch: ‘A broken leg from falling down the stairs..? You were lucky. We used to dream of a broken leg from falling down the stairs.’
Now that the cast is coming off though a tiny part of me feels just a little bit sad. Christmas is coming and the Brown family Christmas photo could have been a fabulous reimagining of Dickens’ Cratchet family complete with an unusually realistic Tiny Tim.