A thousand years ago (or thirty), when I was a little girl, I went to daycare while my parents worked. I don’t remember any of the people specifically, but I can still remember swinging on the swing set with my eyes closed and watching the red of the sun through my eyelids and feeling the wind on my face as I pumped my legs back and forth, flying higher and higher in the sky on my swing. I remember playing tag and running on the gravel, stretching my legs as far and as fast as I could to get to home base. I remember ballet classes with a real life ballerina. We had yearly recitals and the most perfect gowns. Mom still has pictures from my “ballerina” days. There were water gun “swim” days and first crushes. There were best friends, fast friends, faces I can no longer recall.
The play yards were separated into three different areas by chain link fences with a wooden privacy fence surrounding the perimeter. The younger kids were kept to what I think was the north side. One day when I was four years old, I was playing in the rocks and the red, hard packed dirt underneath the rocks in a corner of the baby yard. I don’t recall exactly how or why I did it, but I put my chubby, short, four year old fingers through the chain link fence as I was standing up. My right ring finger got caught and it broke. I told the daycare attendants I had broken my finger. I’m sure they sent me to the “nurse” who looked at it and patted me on the head and said I would be fine. Unless you were vomiting or covered in lice, you got a pat on the head. If you were lucky, you got a band-aid.
When mom picked me up from daycare that evening, I told her I had broken my finger. Mom, who is always quick now to get any injury seen by a doctor, looked at my finger and told me it was jammed and I would be fine.
I don’t remember complaining about my finger, but I must have. My next memory about the finger involves my dear Aunt Pam. Aunt Pam is somewhere around 5′ tall, maybe 5’1″ if she’s having a good hair day. She has the personality of a giant though. Whenever she would come over, she would squeal when she saw me and hug and love on me. Aunt Pam is one of those special people who can make you feel as if you are the center of the universe. When she left, she would get down on my level and envelop me in a fabulous hug and remind me that she was my favorite aunt. I have since learned that she did that with all of my cousins. (There are around 20 of us.) The thing that makes Aunt Pam so special is that for whomever she is talking to, she gets on their level and really listens to what they are saying, no matter if they’re 4 or 40.
So Aunt Pam came to the house about six weeks after I broke my finger in the chain link fence. I remember sitting in her lap in the Lazy Boy rocking chair. The chair was blue and fluffy and we fit perfectly together on the chair. She looked at my finger as I told her what happened and she said, “Aww baby, it IS jammed. Let me pop it for you.”
(Don’t those just sound like famous last words?)
Aunt Pam pulled my little ring finger and apparently heard a horrendous crack.
“Janet!” she called my mom, the concern evident in her voice. “I think her finger might really be broken.”
Mom took me to the doctor the next week where I had an x-ray which confirmed the first fracture and the subsequent re-setting done in the Lazy Boy.
I did not require surgery. The finger didn’t even need to be splinted.
Mom never again told a child they had simply jammed their finger.
Sometime after I reached adulthood, Aunt Pam and I were talking at a family Christmas dinner (loudly, of course) and she asked about my finger. She was HORRIFIED that I remembered sitting in her lap as she (not on purpose) re-broke my finger. She said she never again touched another child’s finger because she was so traumatized by the whole experience.
My right ring finger is still crooked.