Don't Mind Me

Really.  I'm just bursting into tears at the drop of a hat but seriously, I'm okay.

It's Jane, my little Janie (9), who appears to have a fractured elbow.

She was rough-housing with her sister and fell off of the couch onto her arm.  So, naturally, now the official story will be that her sister broke her arm--and it's not such an undeserved accusation.  Ana is two-and-a-half years older and weighs a good 40 pounds more than Jane and she's been warned about getting too physical. Maybe this event will get the message through.  If not, I am worried in advance for the day that Jane is NOT so little and decides she has had enough--because Jane is super strong and coordinated and, as we all know, payback is a beast.

(As an aside (I know, I know, but y'all are just going to have to indulge me on this one because I spent 3.5 hours at the emergency room with Jane listening to a little boy scream that he was DYING and by gosh, if I want to digress, I WILL.) I was talking to my friend Tiffany about this and expressing my concern about the physical fighting between my girls.  Tiff and I are both separated by a wide age gap from our nearest siblings and so this sort of fighting is foreign to us.  But we've both had experiences with the exact same thing--the bullying of a younger sibling by an older one--and we were wondering if it's sort of a normal developmental thing.  Don't get me wrong, I am not excusing Ana's roughness with Jane as "normal" (and, obviously, if you have read this blog for any length of time, you know that Ana is a gentle soul and (mostly) a very good big sister) but we were just kind of wondering if all siblings close in age go through a phase like this.  What do y'all think?)

Anyway, as I alluded to earlier, I ended up taking Jane to the Emergency Room because we received some blatantly false information from the radiology office that our pediatrician uses on holidays.  Namely, we were told we needed a referral to come in for an x-ray and we assumed that the pediatrician's office was faxing that over.  Unfortunately, after several follow-up calls on my part, it turns out that the pediatrician's office had never been required to fax over a referral before and that the woman I talked to initially just kind of made that rule up.  By the time I had everyone talking to each other and the whole thing straightened out, there was not enough time to get the x-ray and then get it read by the pediatrician's office before the office closed early for the holiday so they sent us to the ER.

I was so angry that I could seriously feel my pulse IN MY HAIR.  It's not that this was such an emergency --it happened on Saturday night and we only decided to go to the doctor when it was still bothering Jane on Monday --but I was just furious at the general incompetence of the radiology staff and the complete freaking attitude delivered by the ...(CENSORED) woman who told me completely false information that she MADE UP JUST TO MESS WITH ME.

So, then we went to the ER and settled in for a looong visit.  We were actually treated in the hallway across from a row of those curtained off beds.  For the entire three-and-a-half hours that we were there, we listened to a very sick little boy who was just certain he was dying.  He did have some sort of really bad stomach complaint--beyond just a virus-- and the doctor's didn't seem to know what was wrong but they kept trying to do various diagnostic tests on him and he kept screaming and screaming and screaming.  And vomiting.

His parents were Spanish-speaking only and their fear for their child was almost palpable. The hospital had an interpretor who came down periodically to try to let them know what was going on but as I sat there, my anger at that snippy little b-word who handed out misinformation with such an attitude dissipated and I began to feel a sense of enormous gratitude.

Not just grateful because I got to walk out of there with my baby while those poor parents were still trying to get some kind of diagnosis for their son.  But also because, while it was irritating as all get-out trying to straighten out the deal with the doctor and the radiologist's office, the fact is that I COULD.  And then when we were dealing with the several sets of x-rays and the ER doctor and then the orthopedic resident (Jane's fracture is on a growth plate that hasn't entirely calcified yet so it didn't show up completely on the x-rays so there was a lot of conversation about the whole thing), I could understand what the doctors were saying and ask questions directly when there was something I didn't understand.  I don't know, sometimes I am so privileged in ways I never think about.

I kept thinking about those parents, sitting there listening to their son scream (and scream and scream) and to the bevy of medical personnel making decisions about his treatment -- and not being able to understand  a single word. How immeasurably frightening it must have been.

And, since we were sitting there for so long, I started to feel very grateful that at least those parents could come to a place and have their son treated.  I keep thinking about those poor Haitian people--who already had so little and now have nothing.

Hug your babies if you've got them.  And maybe your doctors, too.


Kris said…
I think the fighting between siblings is at least reasonably normal, Barb. It certainly was normal in OUR house - my sister and I are a year apart, and my two brothers are just under a year apart - oh yeah, a day without fighting somewhere, well, it just seems like it seldom happened.

The ER story kinda reminds me of the time I ended up in the ER for a cat scratch - just don't ask. But for what it's worth, I don't think it was to mess with you - it was probably more because she didn't feel like doing her job.

Good for you for keeping it together, though. (Mostly anyway.)
There's 20 months between my brother and I and we fought like cat and dog for a period of about 2 years. I think it is quite normal- although obviously that doesn't mean acceptable. In our case, we culminated in a pillow fight where I tried to jump on my brothers bed and he -accidentally to be fair- kneed me in the face and chipped my tooth. That kind of put both of us off for good, so hopefully it will be the same with Jane and Ana. Hang in there!
hollygee said…
I was a nanny to a girl, 5, and a boy 2-1/2. Nine years later I cam back to be a physical barrier between the two of them for a period of about a year. One year after that? they could sit on a couch together to look at photos without any physical abuse (boy to girl) or psychological abuse (girl to boy). Amazing.
Unknown said…
yes, we need to remember we have it all very very good.

Poor baby, hug her (gently)
deb said…
.....and your nurses?!! socknurse deb
Miri said…
It runs the gamut, doesn't it? The mother-bear urge to protect at all costs (read: slay the evil lie-speaking doctor's office woman), the compassion for our neighbors who aren't as blessed as we.

Maddy's breaks were near growth plates too. How's Jane doing with the pain?

And the sister fighting thing? Mine seem to go through ups and downs with it, mostly under the guise of "roughhousing" like you describe.
Barb Matijevich said…
DEFINITELY your nurses. (Sorry I forgot!)

But, um, maybe not the receptionist at the radiologist's clinic...especially if she's having a bad attitude!
There's a difference between roughhousing and bullying, keep in mind. It's normal to roughhouse. If both girls are having fun (at least, up until the part where bones are broken), no problem. It's bullying if one is crying for the other to stop and the other will not stop. Even tickling can be bullying that way.

Hope Jane is feeling okay!
~Jody said…
Ha - my brother & I used to routinely try to kill each other - it was great fun! We're 3 years apart & really great friends.
Georgi said…
I think siblings are going to rough house and fight, no matter what mom and dad say. My oldest daughter broke her hand one time by taking a swing at her sister and missing and hitting the counter instead. We has some serious discussions about it, but then the little one caught up to her in size. Now they are the best of friends. lolol
Karen said…
OK, from snickers to tears in just one post.

Deep breath.

I only had one physical altercation with my 2 1/2-years older brother ever, he punched me in the gut and I couldn't breathe and I truly think he was more afraid than I was and we never ever did anything like that again.

And now I have two boys that are almost exactly 3 years apart, and (as far as I know) they have never done anything more than an occasional poke or jab - nothing ever pain-inflicting or even close to dangerous, either accidentally or on purpose.

Clearly it's because I am the most incredible mother to walk the face of the earth.

Or it's just luck, temperament, coincidence.

Or my personal favorite, fear of something HURTING. They are like their mommy and they don't like to feel an owie.
Mama Ava said…
I am a terrible hospital mother raised by a terrible hospital mother. When I was 10 I took a hard fall off my horse and had to walk over a mile back home because I couldn't get back on. Two days later my mother decided I should maybe go to the doctor to get a cast I wore for 3 months. Stitches? No way. Never.

My daughter broke her elbow when she was 2. I got around to getting to the doctor later that afternoon (hey, she took a nap and wasn't screaming). Last week my son fell out of a tree and I did take him to the ER for an xray (nonconclusive) the next day. They put a temp. cast on it--which cracked 3 days later. Since he didn't seem to be in pain and going to the doctor in Beijing is BIG pain...well, I cut it off in the garage with a saw.

Three years in Africa with virtually no competent medical care just made me even more casual. I've had 3 broken hands/arms, at least 3 falls out of trees, a bike wreck, a fall into a barbed wire fence, and a head cracked on the pool bottom in the last 2 years. I kid you not.

I was 6 years older than my brother and 10 years older than my sister so it was impossible to physically fight with them. If we had been closer in age, though, we definitely would have. My mom would have shoved us out the door, and probably spanked us for good measure! For all the accidents in our family, my kids are not physically combative. I think I'd take it all in stride...whacking people isn't allowed so they'd be punished, but I wouldn't get really wound up if one of them ended up with a cut or break--as long as it was roughousing,not bullying.
Otter said…
my 'baby' brother and I are 18 months apart and my older brother and I are 4 years apart. We roughhoused non-stop for years (and fought like hell a few times). The roughhousing was a fantastic way for us to learn how to handle ourselves if we ever needed to, it is also a great way to de-stress as a kid. We broke several lamps, knick-nacks and bones pouncing on each other and so did most of our friends, but when one person cried 'uncle' it stopped immediately. My brothers and I are very close to this day. I don't have kids, but I have to say that roughhousing was great fun for us as kids, and as long as the rule of 'uncle' applied, I'd probably let mine have at it.
Mrs.Q said…
Poor ow-bow! I hope it feels better soon! As for sibling rivalry - yes, there was some nastiness growing up. Though it was my younger sister, in fact, who was physically more...assertive. We grew up to be great friends, though, and without serious injury.

And...YES! So much to be grateful for. Medical care, and famblies, and not being someplace like Haiti, and having yarn to pet. Does put it all in perspective!
Bullwinkle said…
My sister and I are 16 mo apart and we never did the physical fighting thing. (She was always much bigger than me and it was totally unfair.) I do remember she had some fights with neighbor kids. (There was 16 of us, all within three years of age, all girls and interchangeable parents. Seriously - who needs 6 mothers?) (Who was eating where for dinner was rather comical logistically.)

My brother, otoh, is 4 years younger than I. And the physical fighting with him was outrageous. He was terrible - beating up on us - until we smacked him (which was sooo not allowed given the age difference.) That lasted well past the terrible two's. Or three's. Even four's. (He was a handful.)

So sorry for the trouble with Jane (remember - children heal fast!) She probably deserves some ice cream and cookies.
kim said…
Oh, poor Jane! I hope she's feeling better soon. How is mom holding up?
LaDonna said…
Unfortunately, yeah, I think it's pretty normal. Breaks your heart, but normal, nonetheless. I have the same issue with my girls. They are separated by almost 4 years, and Paige is almost 50 pounds heavier than her sister, but the two of them get into it physically all the time. Even when they're just playing, I try to stop them because I just know someone's going to do something to make the other one mad and it's going to escalate to a fight.

Of course, where the older one likes to start the physical, the younger one is a master at psychological warfare. She can push her sister's buttons like nobody's business. She's also an amazing little actress, turning on the tears just in time for mom to see what looks like her sister tripping, flicking, or scratching her.

So, the fights end up pretty even in the end. And even though Marissa may start it by being a button pusher, Paige usually ends up in trouble because she finishes it with a physical come-back.

Someday, they'll grow out of it, I'm sure. I hope they live that long.