The Rockwood Files: The luxury of normal

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

A few weeks ago, shortly after our 8-year-old son learned to ride his bike without training wheels, we had another exciting first – the first bad bike wreck.

I didn’t see it happen, which is a good thing because I’d still be replaying it in my head if I did. He and his little brother went with Tom to a nearby biking trail, and Adam crashed into a cement wall after picking up too much speed coming off a hill. (This is an excellent reason why hills should never be near cement walls on a bike trail. But I digress.)

Tom called me right after the accident and said, “I don’t want you to panic because I think everything is fine, but Adam may have broken his leg.”


I flew out the door with our 3-year-old in tow headed for the ER. When I saw Adam, I was 99 percent sure his leg wasn’t broken. He wasn’t howling in pain, and this is a kid who is never stoic about discomfort, even when it’s a paper cut.

He was scraped up and bleeding, and I could tell where a few large bruises were already turning purple. Thankfully, he was wearing a helmet so his head was fine. The nurses cleaned him up, and we took him home wearing bandages but, luckily, no cast.

Fast forward two weeks. The scrapes from the bicycle wreck were mostly healed, and the whole thing was ancient history. Adam was still riding his bike, playing basketball in the driveway and wrestling with his brother. Life was back to normal. Then, last Wednesday, I got a call on my cell phone from the school nurse who said Adam was in her office and could “barely walk.”

That’s exactly the kind of phone call that sends a mother racing toward school to find out what happened. When I got there, he was hobbling around with a heavy limp. He said his leg hurt and motioned toward a large area above his knee. He limped out to the van with me and we headed for a doctor’s appointment.

After a round of x-rays, our doctor sent us to see an orthopedic specialist that same hour. I told the specialist about the previous bike wreck although I was sure the two things weren’t related because there had been no limp during the previous two weeks. When the orthopedist examined his leg and turned it slightly, Adam’s eyes got wide when the pain hit. “It’s his hip,” said the doctor, in a confident tone that made me realize how many times he’s seen this before.

He said the trauma from the bike wreck probably caused fluid to build up on his hip bone, sending pain radiating down toward the knee. It’s a common hip injury for boys his age, and the treatment is simply staying off the leg plus a steady dosing of ibuprofen. He was ordered to go to bed for the next four days.

As I fluffed Adam’s bed pillows and handed him the remote control and a snack, I could tell he was a tad too happy with his situation as well as my servitude. I trudged around the house doing the usual chores, wondering if I should take up biking myself. A little fluid on the hip followed by days of mandatory bed rest didn’t sound too terrible to me. In fact, it sounded downright decadent. I could read and sleep and channel surf and eat dinner in bed and – did I already mention sleep? Yes, I’d do lots of that.

I read an online article once that talked about how one mother had secret fantasies of having a minor car accident. She’d be the only one in the car and there’d be no serious injuries, but she’d be hurt just enough to stay in the hospital for a few days of rest and recuperation. This was the only scenario she could envision that would get her out of the house and into a restful, peaceful environment where people would take care of her instead of vice versa. The article was flooded with comments from other moms who admitted having similar daydreams.

So perhaps I was a tad jealous of my son’s doctor-imposed vacation. And he enjoyed it immensely that first day. By the end of the second day, however, he was antsy. In the middle of the third day, he insisted his leg felt fine again. He was bored and lonely. He kept asking if I’d lie down and watch old Flintstones cartoons with him. By the fourth day, his bed rest vacation was beginning to feel more like prison, and he wanted out.

This morning, he walked without limping or feeling pain. So we let him go to school again, and he walked through those school doors joyously – so happy to once again be doing the things he was used to doing. And it made me realize that, despite how alluring temporary immobility sounds on the surface, I rockwoodheadshot2010compressed3.jpgshould never forget what a luxury and a blessing it is when life is simply normal.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of She’d love to hear your thoughts and advice on kids and money, so click the orange button above to comment. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.