T was fourteen a few weeks ago. He’s a young adult – i.e. not a child. I suspect that if he had broken his leg when he was ten the situation would have been a whole lot different. For a start, I would have been able to carry him. It wouldn’t have been easy, but I’m 5ft 9 so it would have been achievable. Secondly, I would have had no qualms about helping him on with his underpants. Or washing him. Or helping him to the toilet.
But he’s not 10, he’s 14. He’s a young man. This makes the whole situation a bit more delicate. I didn’t expect to have to help my teenage son to change his pants. I thought that we had moved onto the stage of showering with the door locked and changing with the bedroom door closed and we wouldn’t go back. We’re not a “walk round the house naked” type of family; we’re not prudes (well OK, I am, we all know it) but we don’t flaunt it either.
The first few days of him being stuck, completely immobile, in bed were a steep learning curve: getting him comfortable, making sure his leg was supported properly and not causing undue pain, making sure he had his meds on time before the effect wore off, keeping his mind off of the horrendous ordeal he was going through, etc.
I have also learned a lot about my ick-tolerance threshold. (That’s not a typo, I meant ick not sick. Icky things. Things that make you go “eww”.) It seems that it is not very high. I have (I believe) a pretty good pain threshold, but on the ick scale I am not faring so well. I love him beyond belief; I changed him and cleaned his peachy little bottom when he was a baby and that was OK. But, this is a whole different level. While we are in the limbo land of waiting for the verdict from the fracture clinic and he is unable to lower himself onto the loo and support his own, broken, leg, his dad and I are having to help him. Luckily, I got the lowering job and not the leg-holding one. I get to wait outside until he needs to get back up; once the deed has been done. We have managed to work out how to change his boxer shorts without me having to cop an eyeful. He’s not bothered. I thought it was the pain he was in for the first few days that had made him not give a damn about nakedness but it seems he’s still not bothered. It’s me. So, with a towel strategically placed it’s all good. It’s pretty funny actually and we’ve had some proper ‘laugh out loud, in danger of falling over onto the bed, “mind the leg” moments’.
It’s actually been nice to be able to care for him. Properly care for him. Not just the cooking of meals, washing of clothes, checking in with him, chatting about his day to day life sort of caring. Proper caring. Washing him, getting him to clean his teeth, washing his hair (thank you Google) and changing his underwear. It’s been almost a joy. To be needed so much by him, like he hasn’t needed me since he started school really. And sitting with him to keep him company. He normally spends a fair bit of time doing his own thing in his room, or out with his friends. If he’s here in the evening he’s upstairs doing homework or wathching YouTube or whatever else he does up there. But it feels wrong to leave him alone when he has no choice. So we sit together and chat, or just sit in the same room reading or looking at Instagram or whatever. And it’s not a chore, or a pain. We’ve laughed a lot. T being T and the techy lover that he is, we’ve got a new way of communicating, via an app that works as a walkie talkie. He can press a button on his app and his voice comes out of the speaker on my phone. And vice versa. So when I am working downstairs, he can summon me as needed and I can check he’s OK without going up the stairs. It’s been the source of much amusement (and annoyance). The system records each communication and you can play them back at a later date. I will be keeping them forever.
Another difference between this happening to him at age fourteen and not age ten, is his maturity to be able to deal with this. When he was ten he would not have taken kindly to being forced to lay in bed all day. But at fourteen? Teenagers dream. Joking aside, apart from a few tears of massive frustration and (totally justified) self-pity in the first 48 hours he has been incredibly stoical about the whole confined-to-bed-for-an-entire-week situation. We’re all banking on a good outcome on Thursday at the fracture clinic and keep repeating almost mantra-like that it will all be so much better when he has a proper cast on. He’s had visits from friends and he’s been allowed the PS3 in his room (something I vowed would NEVER happen and which will come to a definite end when this is all over) and he’s got all his tech around him. He’s making the best of a bad situation. He wouldn’t have done that at ten.
Yesterday, we all had a bit of an irritable day. K and I were both working (him from home for a short while in the morning, and me from home all day as normal – another instance where that is such a bonus) and were both aware that unlike the last 3 days T was not able to be out entire focus. It felt like Team TB (sorry Gill, I still haven’t got a better name) had started to disintegrate. But we’ve all woken up a bit brighter today (48 hours till fracture clinic!) and A has been invited to a friends house so she has something nice to do rather than helping out and occupying herself.
My man/child is making me proud and I hope that we are making this a bit easier for him to bear. Even if I am a bit rubbish with the ick stuff.