Have you, like me, gone down the slide, like a million times, with your toddler on your lap?
Perhaps you vaguely recall reading something or maybe actually learning in a parenting class that there is a high injury rate, especially for broken legs for the kid on the lap, when you go down together. Perhaps like me, you throw caution to the wind, because it’s so much fun to go down the slide with your toddler, to count down one – two – three and weeeeeeee down the slide, just so you can hear them say “Again! Again!” and do the hand-sign for more and climb up and do it again. And probably like me you thought: my baby will never break her leg going down the slide on my lap.
Well, it happened to me. Or more significantly it happened to my 18-month-old who is now in a cast for four to six weeks with a fractured tibia.
We were visiting friends in the late afternoon after an epic Bat Mitzvah party in Long Island. The friends had recently erected a backyard playground set with swings, rings, and of course, a slide. One of those twisty curvy tube slides. Charlotte climbed up to the slide platform, but it was a bit higher than our neighborhood slide and she didn’t want to go down by herself. I climbed up, plopped her in my lap, and in the first bend of the slide, her foot got stuck and her leg bent in a funny way. By the time we got down she was in the midst of the longest silent scream ever and tears. Once it became clear she didn’t want to step down on her left leg, we took her to a pediatric urgent care center. They did x-rays and confirmed she had a fractured tibia. Very common. So they splinted her up and directed us to the Long Island Jewish pediatric ER where we waited for a couple hours before the orthopedic pediatric doctor wrapped her up in a purple cast from toes to thigh.
It’s been a good parenting life lesson. Not one that I necessarily wanted, but I’ll take it and share it.
I’m not particularly wracked with guilt. I know these things happen, especially this particular injury, which makes me feel more like the stupidest mom ever as opposed to the worst mom in the world. My punishment for my cavalier attitude towards playground equipment is that as her primary caregiver most days of the week, I have to now constantly lug around a toddler with a broken leg who pleads with me to put her down so she can “a-walk.” I receive a lot of knowing and compassionate looks when we’re walking around the lake, Charlotte with her purple cast poking out of the stroller. I’ve literally had a dozen people tell me in the past week about how their little one broke their leg at that age–going down the slide on their lap.
This experience has also been very humbling. Spending a Saturday night in a pediatric emergency room has made me so thankful that we were only there for a fractured leg. I empathize in a new way and my heart goes out to parents with seriously sick kids.
So take this as a cautionary tale: don’t go down the really fun twisty slide with your toddler. But if you do, and they break their leg, know that it happens ALL THE TIME, according to every nurse, doctor, and medical technician we saw that fateful Saturday night. Bones heal and little bones heal fast. She’ll probably never remember her broken leg. I will and I’ll have people telling me repeatedly for the next three weeks–didn’t you read that article in the New York Times, “A Surprising Risk for Toddlers on Playground Slides“? Um, no, but I just did, and yeah, that’s exactly how it went down.