The phone call came at lunch time: ‘Fleur, would you come and pick your child up, please? She’s had slight accident and needs to go to hospital.’
Enough to strike fear into the heart of any mother, let alone one that was about 10km away from her car, in a clapped out tractor, feeding out hay to cows.
‘Uh,‘ I stuttered, ‘What happened?’
‘She’s had a fall and she’s either badly sprained her ankle or it’s broken. We think the latter.’
I must give the teacher her due. She was amazingly calm as she delivered the news, which helped put my mind at ease… Until she asked: ‘How long will you be? ’her voice quavered just slightly.
I admit, I stopped before I answered and listened intently. Nope, couldn’t hear the walls of the school being screamed down, via the phone.
‘Give me twenty five minutes.’
I looked at my hungry cows, staring at me over the gate, giving the occasional ‘feed me’ bellow. They seemed to understand they weren’t about to get fed. Not anytime soon. A 220km round trip to town, with a possible three hour wait at the hospital…
‘Sorry girls,’ I threw over my shoulder as I hurtled down the driveway, dialing hubby’s mobile phone.
‘Child number one, fallen, with a possible broken ankle,’ I report. ‘What shall I do with child number two? Can you pick him up off the bus?’
‘Take him with you,’ was the reply from the tractor – he was seeding.
Great. A “hard to entertain” child, in the hospital waiting room and, one (most likely) squawking with pain. It was just getting better and better!
I may have broken speed limit to get to school.
As I may have unlawfully used my mobile phone to phone a friend, to distract me on the drive to school. Only may have.
Walk in. There’s my poor baby lying pale faced on a camp bed, with feet in the air. My heart just about fell out of my chest.
‘Don’t think it’s broken,’ the calm registrar (also a friend) tells me. ‘She can move it. If it’s still really tender tomorrow, take her to the doctor. Ice, elevation and rest.’
Thankful for the unruffled and practical advice, (me? I’m not at all practical, unless it’s to do with farming. And if it involves my kids, I panic) we carried her out and dumped her on the back seat of the car, amidst much gasping and crying.
‘Please don’t hit the bumps, Mum,’ was requested – I did try not to, but, on gravel roads and substandard bitumen ones, well, sometimes the potholes are the size of Tasmania!
Home, and once again she was half carried and half dragged inside, dumped on the lounge (since when did my baby get to stage I couldn’t carry her?) Panadol, ice, elevation, doona, book, remote control, phone, ‘oh, and some socks please, Mum . My other foot is freezing!’ The list went on, but finally she was comfortable enough for me to go back to my hungry cows.
Get about half a kilometere down the drive and my mobile rings. ‘Mum, I need to go to the toilet and I can’t walk there.’
Back home again.
Back on the couch again.
Back to my hungry cows again.
The poor girls did finally get fed, but I almost missed the school and ended up hurtling down the drive to meet the school bus with the excruciatingly embarrassing old tractor. (‘Mum why couldn’t you come down in the John Deere?! Asked child number two.) Why indeed?
Postscript to the story:
Ankle still swollen and injured child unable to walk, the next day. Trip to Doctor netted a set of crutches and a broken foot.
Is there a moral to the story? Do not ever give a child that can’t walk a bell!