It was 1 month before the start of a new competitive dance season for a 5 year old little girl. With three team dances and one solo, the rigorous demands for preparation were a bit out of touch with reality. Nonetheless, the passion, drive and commitment from a tiny heart would persevere. Until….the kindergarten bouncy house birthday party invitation.
It was a complete freak accident, the scream was intense and the first of its nature heard by her mother. One leap in the air by a much older child and the unintentional "double bounce" next to my little dancer caused the ankle to roll. It swelled instantly and I knew it was bad. Two fractures, a torn ligament, and a cast could not keep this determined girl from her love of dance. Because, you see, at dance….she was in control.
Why? I kept asking myself why? We were always so careful….why? "Everything happens for a reason." I must have been told this 10 times. For the life of me, I could not find a "reason". Children don't get hurt for a "reason". I had convinced myself "This was an accident, and only an accident." I have never been so wrong.
By the third day of lifting my casted child out of the car, unloading the wheelchair and rolling her to class, I was informed by the teacher that there is really: no one to help her at school, no one to push her to the bathroom, no one to help her transfer out of the wheelchair, and nothing for her to do at recess or PE. This revelation began my days of going back to kindergarten. For 2 weeks, I stayed in my child's classroom to give her the basic needs to be able to participate at school. I provided her alternative activities to make up for the "fun" she was missing, and essentially became the "teacher's aid" to the other students as well. That's what parents do…right?
During these two weeks, I couldn't help but notice the constant yelling everyday that I entered the school. There was yelling in the morning, yelling at lunch, and yelling at the end of the day…everyday. The environment was starting to feel a bit traumatic, but it took a lot more than a few classrooms of out of control kids and "I've lost control teachers" to make me realize that…this was no accident. You see, the teacher became very comfortable with me and very used to me being there. The "smile and wave" filter was gone. When you yell at a kindergartner so loud and forcefully that it causes fear and the loss of bladder control…you have crossed the line. When you grab a child by the face and yank them over to you to yell at them…you have crossed the line.
So, which would you choose? A fractured ankle that will heal in three months vs. a traumatic first year of school that could cause a lifetime of damage. We'll take the fracture and transfer. Four weeks post fracture, and dancing in a walking cast…the solo trophy was a bonus.