For those of you who read my “About Me” section, you may have stumbled upon the mention of my awkwardly awesome left arm. Here and now I will relive the incident in the hopes of educating others – particularly young children who like to read blogs about safety (I’m envious of their ability to use the internet and iPhones before they’ve finished potty training by the way), about the occasional down side of not listening to advice given by parents. While the result is a spectacular party gross-out, I wouldn’t recommend that every 4 – 6 year old tries this at home.
In the early 1980s my family lived in Papua New Guinea. I was about 4 years old and it was an amazing place to me. We lived right across the road from the beach (yeah!) and while my Dad worked, Mum kept an eye on my brother, sister and me as we entertained ourselves in a world of trees, bushes and hand-made excitement.
One particular day we found ourselves looking for action. We wandered around the yard, looking for something that would provide us with entertainment. We rounded the side of the house and found the answer to our little prayers! Right there on the grass, as though sent from Heaven, was a dining table! This was most certainly useful to us and our minds (well, mine for sure, I cant speak for my brother and sister) began flooding with ideas. Forts, trucks, space ships, submarines and all other manner of crazy childish thought argued their case for being the idea of the day as far as this white, four-legged and seemingly unassuming structure was concerned.
And then my brother spoke. Being the eldest, he had authority and certainly knew better than his younger siblings.
“I think you two should dance for me. Up on the table.”
When you’re about 4 years old, all ideas seem like good ones. Especially when they’re coming from people you trust. Like your older brother. I’ve paid for that trust – hilariously though in hindsight, on many occasions. I’ll tell you about the chili eating and the eels another time. For now, let’s continue.
As my sister and I climbed up onto the table, a memory flashed in my mind. It was of my Mum, sternly telling us earlier that this table had two unsafe legs and that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES (even if we were suddenly overrun by a plague of rampantly raging guinea pigs) were we to get on, be underneath or play around this table. And yet my brother needed entertaining, and we would be bad siblings if we didn’t do something about that!
We danced like dervishes, whirling and grooving like only toddlers can. All witnesses would say that no finer exhibition of dancing has ever been witnessed. Mikhail Baryshnikov, Josephine Baker, Michael Jackson and Anna Pavlova would’ve been proud. Maybe the Gods became jealous of our dancing skill, the grace and passion that we exuded as we unleashed our creative and interpretive energies upon the World. Before long, the table was rocking beneath our feet. An even shorter time after that, both legs at one end of the table gave way under our magnificence and two little children found themselves, for a moment, living like astronauts; floating in the air without the sweet embrace of gravity.
All too quickly, reality regained its composure. My little sister was tossed up into the air and landed head-first while I fell onto my side and slid gently down the table to the ground. We both sat up and checked ourselves. All limbs were intact and damage was minimal. Even the sound of the table crashing down seemed to have been absorbed by a wall of pillows, because no-one rushed out to survey the catastrophe.
As I began to walk towards my brother, I picked a small stone out of my left elbow. I straightened my arm but it didn’t work. For some reason, 90 degrees was as far as it would go now. It didn’t hurt while it was bent and there was no broken skin or blood to betray a wound. It didn’t make any sense to me. My brother was also perplexed by this, and attempted to straighten my arm for me. Pain shot through my arm whenever I tried to straighten it past a right angle and before long I was being rushed to an emergency room for an examination.
The simple result of my assessment was dislocation. I had to put my arm in a sling for a couple of weeks (it might have been longer, I’m not really sure but trust me – unwashed sweat gets REALLY smelly…) and before I knew it I was better than as good as new. My new left arm could now hyperextend, allowing me to perform interesting feats of back scratching and daring acts of escaping arm twists!
I’ve grown to love my crazy left arm as if it was my own and it is always funny to reveal my awesome elbow to friends old and new because it looks fine when it’s bent – but when it’s straightened, well it has a very original shape.
So kids, both old and young, to you I say this: There is plenty of fun to be had by disregarding advice; but sometimes it is always better to listen when your parents (or someone else who has about 25 years experience over you) when they tell you that something is not a good idea.
The only problem I’ve found is – it’s hard to know when to listen and when not to. 😉