>Took Mr. Bennett to Children’s Hospital today to the Orthopedics Clinic to treat his mallet finger… also known as baseball finger. If the staff of Children’s also worked at the DMV, passport office, or post office… the world would surely be a happier place, because they very well may be the nicest, sunniest people on the planet. I witnessed nice people take his x-ray, examine his hand, and explain to him that his hands are not to come into contact with a ball for six weeks while his finger heals. No baseball, and (wait for it)…. no football.
He looked at the nice, sunny bearer of bad news in astonishment. And then he looked at me. To be honest, knowing how much of a pain in the ass he was going to be about this, I was just as disappointed as he was. But I shrugged. Then nodded, as if to say, “You heard the lady.”
He tried to get around the restriction: “What if I hike the ball with my left hand?” Nice try, buddy. “What if I catch without using my finger.” Ditto. She told him he can run around, bike, swim and play soccer, but as he sat there in his bright blue Colts hat, in the middle of football season, none of it seemed appealing.
And then I stupidly tried to put things in perspective.
“Athletes sit out for weeks a time” I say. “You’re now an official athlete. Whohoo!”
He looked at me as if to say, if these are the nicest people on earth, then you very well may be the stupidest.
I am not phased by my failure. “Hey, look around,” I say. “There are kids in leg casts, arm casts, and some in wheelchairs waiting to heal.” You’re so lucky — it’s only a finger.
The disgust now turns into a look of complete confusion. He couldn’t imagine a broken arm, or anything else, and as an eight year old, he certainly couldn’t put any of this in perspective. Perspective as I learned right there, is for adults. Adults who are grateful to be in the Orthopedics Clinic for nothing more than a finger. All an eight year old boys comprehends is no ball for six weeks, and nothing I said was going to help.
The nice, nice lady saw him fighting back tears. And then, nice as she is, makes things worse.
” I bet you have a Wii,” she said. Bennett swings around, stares at me, and says, “No, I don’t. But all my friends do.” So now I feel mildly negligent as well as useless. “Well,” she says, “You probably have video games at home.” Still staring at me, he replies, “No. We have nothing in our house.” At this point I expected him to add: “I’m the oldest of five. I barely get fed. For fun I get to peel paint off the side of the house and eat it.”
Feeling rather crappy at this point, I immediately bleat out: “But he has a DS, and he can play it all he wants.” And then Mr. Bennett gives me the biggest grin imaginable, because I’ve just said EXACTLY what he wanted me to say. In fact, I played right into the little bugger’s hands.
And there you have it. I learned more about the complex mind of an eight year old boy (which as I have repeatedly noted, is far more complicated than that of a thirty-eight year old man), and even more about what not do when you’re on the spot. Even if the world’s nicest people are all around you.
I have to add, that being Bennett, he continues to surprise me. After I finished promising him the moon, I got the biggest smile when I promised to teach him to do something he’s been begging to do for months: knit.