I always assumed that Adventure Boy would be the first to break a bone.
I also always assumed it was just a matter of time before it happened. The way he climbs it seems almost a given that somehow, sometime, something (and not just property) is going to break.
So it's a massive shock that it's my little Extravaganza who is the first of my tribe to break a bone.
I've never broken a bone and it's breaking my heart that my little brave one has gone ahead of me into an unknown of pain and danger.
Two nights ago, after school, the kids asked if they could have a picnic at the nearby playground with their friends from down the street. The playground is only about ten houses away, but it's out of sight, and near a main road so Beloved and I said no. 'Cos we're cruel like that. There was pleading, and we compromised that we'd all go, including the overgrown-newly-castrated pup.
Turning off the oven, grabbing a beaker of coffee we'd just made, we set off, Beloved carrying Giggle-Bear and me being pulled along by the Wolf-en-pup. The kids from down the road had a backpack of carrots and mandarines, a water bottle and cups and we set up at the playground. Giggle-Bear ran around giggling, the kids made themselves soar into the sky on the swing, and then moved onto the flying fox.
It wasn't a particularly high flying fox. In the last month we've been on a heap of much bigger and more impressive ones and Beloved and I were sitting on the bench cooing at Giggle-Bear playing with the water fountain and then climbing into the kangaroo-rocker and not paying so much attention to the bigger kids, except to occasionally step in to help negotiations over turns.
And then I heard The Pain Cry. You know the one. The one that says this really, really hurts.
And I looked over to see the Extravaganza lying under the flying fox with her legs curled around, and howling. So I ran over, checked for any obvious injuries, then carried her over to the bench for Beloved, the med intern, to check her out.
As she continued the in-serious-pain crying, I asked if we should take her to emergency and Beloved gave me the look reserved for over-anxious mamas.
"She's really sore, hon. Normally she just picks herself up and gets on with things," I pointed out.
She's one of the bravest children. She's quite likely to tantrum over a perceived injustice, but I have to be careful when she gets new shoes as she'll walk with bloody blisters without a comment. This time they could probably hear her at the hospital.
We asked what happened and it turned out that when Adventure Boy had launched off on the flying fox, the Extravaganza had grabbed onto him, whereupon he'd let go because she was too heavy and they'd both toppled to the ground, with her underneath.
So Beloved checked her toe movement and got her to press against his hand and she could do everything, but she was still in pain so Beloved put her on his back, I grabbed the Wolf-en-pup's lead and Giggle Bear's hand, and to the accompaniment of high pitched wails, we headed home.
The howls did not stop. Or decrease. At home Beloved checked her foot again. "So her ankle seems alright," he commented.
"Yes, love. But what about this big bump on her leg?" I asked.
"Ah. Yes. That. Let's take her to ED."
There was much howling for Mummy and tight clutching and, despite this meaning Giggle-Bear would be left with Beloved - and also howling for Mummy, I was elected to take her in.
By the time we reached the hospital, the Extravaganza's tears had eased off, and she was able to get her legs in under the pram arms. We were seen straight away by a kindly nurse, and taken into a cubicle where the nurse took a history, checked her air saturation and weighed her.
Very soon after arrival, we were seen by a very young doctor, who took the history again, listening as I explained she still couldn't bear any weight, and how she fell. The extravaganza by now was calm, her eyes still bright from crying, but otherwise composed. The doctor decided that at her age an extra dose of radiation would be bad, and that she didn't need an Xray. Another young doctor came through to confer, maybe from Canada, maybe from South Africa. I wasn't sure. Anyway, he agreed that she didn't need an x-ray and she'd heal by herself, and happy that my little one didn't have anything seriously wrong with her, I put her back in the pusher and we hurried outside to phone to be picked up.
Beloved was heartbroken - while he'd been dropping us off the Wolf-en-pup had eaten the lasagne we'd cooked for dinner. It had been going to be his first meal of the day, work just being too busy to eat.
The following day, the Extravaganza still wasn't bearing weight on her sore leg and it had swollen up, although she was pretty happy, and her usual talkative, cheerful self.
In a very stressed phone call from a hellish day at the hospital, Beloved insisted I take her to the GP for an X-ray referral. Obediently, and a bit tired of carrying the Extravaganza to the toilet, to wash her hands, from couch to bed from bed to couch, dropping her off at her Grandpa's while I dropped Adventure Boy off so she didn't have to walk, I made the appointment, squeezing it in before school pick up.
This doctor also told me that it was probably a haematoma - a bruise, and I stressed she hadn't put any weight on her foot since the night before, and the doctor gave me the referral. The thought of braving an X-ray clinic with all three kids, two of whom would need to be carried, was too much. I decided to wait until Beloved finished work, and let him take her in. He was three hours late finishing, but came out, put the Extravaganza in the pusher, grabbed the coffee I'd got for him and the smarties for bribes, and went in again. And very soon I got the text.
Bone snapped in half. Heading back to ER. Don't wait.
The Extravaganza'd been laughing, giggling. There'd been little sign of bruising, although I'd thought her leg had felt warm, and it was definitely swollen.
On their return, many hours later, the Extravaganza in plaster up past her knee, Beloved showed me the x-ray. It was blatantly clear even to a layperson like myself. As well as a break diagonally across the middle, there was a long hairline fracture going up.
My stoic girl had been just too stoic. She had been so uncomplaining about all their prodding, just nodding 'Yes, that hurts. And that hurts. And that hurts. Yes, that hurts,' that they hadn't realised how bad it was.
Yes, the Extravaganza is a girly girl. She loves pink and her dolls, fairies and makeup. But that doesn't mean she's not adventurous, that she's not brave. Beloved said person after person did a double take from her smiling face to the x-ray.
My brave and darling Extravaganza. She's finding the itching of the cast hard to take, and still hasn't gotten the hang of her crutches.
But I'm so proud of her.
And feeling trepidatious.
I do believe we've entered the Years of Broken Bones.