If you’d have told me something was broken in there, I’d have EATEN. MY. HAT.
Sure, there’d been a little fussing here and there about a foot bothering her after the church roller-skating party. I mean, that’s to be expected after my girl Lucy skated for hours all crazy bowlegged, like she was skating on the inside of her ankles.
We learned way too late that she’d never even tied her laces, like AT ALL. I guess I stupidly thought I was past the point of having to tell a 10-year-old to tie her shoes. (Note to self: I’m not.)
But once she’d done the grueling work of snapping those top straps, she set her course for adventure…her mind nowhere near a hand-me-down set of crutches.
She may not exactly have been Peggy Fleming out there, but she didn’t fall one time. Not once. Even so, stuff was breaking inside.
We know that because a few days later, after some rigorous skipping and Frisbee tossing, she couldn’t drag herself up the stairs without dramatic sobs.
It sort of became our Tonya Harding moment, featuring a wailing girl pointing at where her god-forsaken skate used to be and a stony-faced Nancy Kerrigan-esque mother. (Who’s with me, moms? Don’t pretend like you haven’t been there. Let ye who is without the sin of ignoring a crazy injury and calling it a “flesh wound” throw the first stone.)
“Okay then, if you can’t POSSIBLY go to school,” I proclaimed the next morning, “then I’M TAKING YOU TO THE DOCTOR!”
This was purely a motherly game-of-chicken tactic. I totally expected her to fold.
She said, “Okay.”
Let me just say that it’s serendipitous for clumsy people to be friends with a podiatrist.
So when my foot doctor friend did X-rays (“just to rule out a fracture,” she said), I laughed in her face and waited to be completely red-faced that I’d wasted her time and gamma rays on this silly sideshow.
But X-rays (unlike the occasionally dramatic child) don’t lie. There it was…a little tear-off fracture, actually in two places. One on the tip of her ankle, another on the side of her foot somehow.
How did that happen? I mean, there were people falling in the most calamitous ways that night, staggering like the Walking Dead and taking out entire rows of hand-holding preschoolers. That’s the deal you make at roller rinks; round after round, you just try to stay out of the way of one careening face-plant after another.
But there was Lucy, never once falling, never making a spectacular scene for the AFV blooper reel, smiling and laughing like normal. You’d never know things were cracking inside.
Something about that is wildly metaphorical to me.
Because isn’t the world full of people who are great at putting on the brave face, at smiling through the pain, at hiding what’s broken? So good that you’d never, ever know. Unless they let you in and showed you the pictures of what was really going on, we’d assume it was all clear sailing and jazz hands to the tune of YMCA.
My girl’s like that. Until the cracks burst and everything pours out in a deluge.
Maybe your kids are like that. Maybe the cranky guy at the DMV is like that, or the non-communicative bagger at Stop & Shop. Maybe you’re like that.
I’m going to go on the assumption that everyone’s kind of like that.
Everyone’s walking around with pain. Everyone is pushing stuff down. Everyone has broken places nobody sees. And while we may not be able to do much about that, everyone could stand to be treated a bit more gingerly in this life.
Around here, I’m gonna start with the little girl with the fractured foot.
Geez, I’m sorry, kid. Maybe I’ll get better at this by the time you leave the house.
Either way, let’s go ahead and put the podiatrist’s phone number on speed dial.