David’s red cast was removed almost six weeks ago. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he loathed that cast, which the physician’s assistant left on the exam table just in case we wanted to take it home. Nostalgia aside, David picked up the two pieces of the cast using only his fingertips like it was some sort of hazardous waste and then promptly threw it in the garbage.
A broken arm--another childhood rite of passage. Another episode on which David has to put his own personal stamp. There were no signatures or drawings on David’s cast. In fact, many people did not even realize he was wearing a cast because he insisted on wearing a splint over it. In his mind, I suppose, if he could not see it he could more easily deny its existence.
The splint or “black” as David refers to it was the ER issued stabilizing device given to David to protect his arm until the swelling went down and the cast could be applied. Apparently, in addition to giving his arm stability, the splint also provided David comfort. I am sure that it was a great relief physically as the pressure must have felt good, relieving the pain. I underestimated the emotional support that it provided for him, however. He was prescribed to wear it another four weeks after the cast was removed.
Over a week ago, the doctor proclaimed David’s arm healed, the range of motion good and said that he no longer needed to wear the splint--except that no one told David that last part. Check that. We have told David that last part, but he has chosen as he so often does, not to pay attention. He insists on wearing the splint and only willingly removes it at bath time, during which time he keeps his arm wrapped in a striped washcloth.
Oh, to be able to simply pick it up and throw it into the garbage as David did with his cast, being careful to use only my fingertips because, by this time, it really is hazardous waste. But with David, things are not always that simple. Just talking about giving up the splint makes David begin to well up with tears.
So, I did what any good mother would do. I started secretly cutting the straps while David was in the bath tub. Sometimes when something gets broken, even if David was attached to it, he then willingly relinquishes it. That is how we weaned him from the red allergy alert hospital band that he wore for a few weeks after this very same visit to the hospital.
But David is attached to his black splint like the Peanuts character, Linus was attached to his security blanket. So, I have become more aggressive in my approach. The past two nights I have completely cut through a strap rendering two of the three straps completely useless—or so I thought.
It really is reminiscent of Linus, who used his blanket to fashion, among other things, a whip, cape, necktie, kite or even a shepherd’s headdress for the Christmas pageant. Although initially distraught, David scurried off to a corner, the pieces of his splint in hand. I swear I could almost hear that sound effect, you know that one that sounds sort of like the whisper of “schoo, schoo, schoo, schoo, schoo” and David turned around, relieved that he had reworked those now unattached straps to somehow secure his splint around his arm.
Can I tell you how tiring it is always to be trying to out-think that kid? That kid, who like Linus, is exceptionally smart, but probably frequently underestimated. That kid, who like Linus, not only wears a red shirt every day, but really does not care what anyone else thinks—Linus, by carrying a blanket and David, dancing with abandon to a mariachi band in the hallway at school. Linus acted as the resident philosopher, a theologian of sorts and each day David opens my eyes to see my life, to see the world in a new way.
I wish that there was some way to let David take the comfort of the splint with him, without wearing it, like a child may carry a corner of a blanket, a piece of the satin binding with him, tucked away out of sight. In one of the Peanuts specials that I watched as a child, Snoopy whipped Linus’ blanket into a sport coat. While I’m not expecting a sport coat, stay tuned to see what incarnation David’s splint may take as I cut the third and final strap.