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James R. Stout

The Twirl

            It was a Saturday night and I had just gotten my two kids bathed. Matt was 4 and Hayley was 3. We lived in a two-story townhouse with all of the bedrooms upstairs along with two baths. The downstairs had a dining room, kitchen, living room and a half bath. I always gave the kids a bath in “their” bath. Their bath had a big tub and it was generally attended to by assorted toys, bubble bath, children’s shampoo, and just about anything that I could be talked into for the given bath.

            On that night I gave them a bath and while sitting on a stool beside the tub I read while they played. After about 15 minutes of playing I would take each one of them out of the tub, dry them off, and send them to their rooms to put on their night clothes. I must admit that I had to re-dress them many times given the pajamas or night gown were on inside out or backwards. I would then comb out the tangles in their hair (mostly my daughter’s) and then we headed downstairs to get in the big recliner so that I could read to them. As we got to the bottom of the stairs my daughter asked me to “twirl” her. Every parent has done this with their child many times. There was enough clear area to do the twirling and they both had to have turns. This time was very different though. I picked up my daughter and started to swing her around when she let out a blood curdling scream. I got down on my knees and asked her what was wrong. She was crying profusely and could only manage to point at her arm. When I touched her arm, she screamed again. About this time, I felt like a child abuser! Obviously, there was something wrong. I told my wife that I better take Hayley to the emergency room. My wife stayed home with our son.

            We got to the ER and I explained to the attending physician the problem. Hayley was still holding her arm and crying. They immediately took Hayley in for x-rays. Meanwhile, all of the nurses and attendants were giving me looks that could shrivel steel. It was easy to see what they were thinking.

            After about 30 minutes we got the results and it turned out that when I had picked Hayley up her shoulder had gotten dislocated. The doctor popped it back into place and put a sling on her arm. I was told to have her wear it for 48 hours and there should be no problem. There was ice cream on the way home. There was a hundred or so professions of “I love you” from me to Hayley. I felt terrible. She got some extra rocking and a lot of lovin’ that night.

            The next morning, we got up and got ready for church. I don’t think her arm or shoulder was actually hurting, but she put on a show while being dressed for church. She proudly wore her little sling like a badge of honor. We got to the church and I got her out of the car and had her stand there a moment while I locked and closed the car door. About that time one of our finest ladies of the church, a deacon’s wife no less, stopped to say hello and saw sweet little Hayley standing there wearing her sling. The lady bent down and said to Hayley, “Well now honey, what happened to you?” To which my sweet little angel, with quivering lip, said, “My Daddy broke my arm.” The look on the lady’s face was priceless. I started to stammer and searched for the right thing to say and then explained as succinctly as possible what had happened. This little scene was repeated about half a dozen times before we got to the church nursery. I think I shrunk about half a foot throughout the process. To my ex’s credit, she did confirm the true event as it happened, and I managed to survive the morning.

            I tell you this story to reinforce the old saying that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Don’t assume something without all the facts. Also, don’t twirl your kids. We adults are much stronger than we think we are and while horsing around can be fun, it needs to be done with the safety of the child at all costs. I love my kids so very much. I loved them through each stage of their lives (perhaps their teens were a bit trying), and the love has grown exponentially where my grandchildren are concerned. Our children are such wonderful gifts from God and grandchildren are the cream on top of the cake. If you have children or grandchildren, you probably know exactly how I feel. If not, then if you become a parent, thank God for sharing them with you.

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