THE STAMOS STORY HOUR: Braces Logic and Broken Bones

I broke my first bone when I was five years old. Actually, I broke two bones. I was sledding with my cousins in the massive rolling hills of the country club golf course that was just on the other side of our backyard  (like my very own, easily accessible Narnia!). My older brother, who always seemed to know about things I didn’t, suggested we try a hill with a steeper pitch. Because I was one of those little sisters who thought I could be just as cool (if not cooler) than my big brother, I happily agreed to his proposal. After climbing to the top of the hill, my cousin Emily and I boarded our flying saucer-shaped sheet of plastic that somehow passed as a sled, and my bother pushed us off the ledge, and down the hill we went.

Less than a minute later our sled was upside down and I had a broken collarbone and wrist.

When you are little, breaking a bone is something of a novelty.  It’s kind of exciting! Prior to this sledding incident, a broken bone was somewhat appealing to me, because it would mean I would get a cast, and casts came in many colors, colors like neon yellow or neon blue and definitely neon pink, and not only could I possibly get one of my forearms wrapped entirely in something neon pink, but a cast would mean I could have friends and teachers and doctors sign their names on that exact neon pink surface!

Yes, I was very keen on the idea of the cast – something to accessorize and even better, something that would likely bring about attention and sympathy. I mean it’s not as though I was lacking in either attention or sympathy (or neon pink accessories), but I was the baby of the family and thrived in situations that were me-centric. Thus the misery I would have to go through to warrant the need of a cast seemed totally worth it for said cast. I knew I shouldn’t really want one, but I would be more than okay with it. I though a small break might be okay — something  that would heal quickly. It would get me out of some school for a little bit at least, and anything that gets you out of school for a legitimate reason is totally worth it.

Now this is what I like to call “Braces Logic” – the idea of wanting something you don’t actually want. You’re using Braces Logic when you want something that actually is corrective, something extra only given to you if there is something wrong. Similarly to wanting a cast even if it meant a broken bone, I, like many other foolish children, wanted braces. Braces seemed cool. Braces were another opportunity for accessorizing, attention and sympathy – the things I wanted! But no one really wants braces. Braces are horrible. Braces are really a huge bummer. Braces Logic. It’s not supposed to make sense.

Problems like breaking bones and eventual orthodontic problems seem to accompany various life-stages of growing up, so naturally, when all the hyper kids started breaking bones, by the laws of Braces Logic, everyone yet to experience such a thing was kind of interested in wearing a cast.

And thus, despite the pain, I was along for the ride when it came to my broken collarbone. The downside to this kind of fracture, as I soon learned, is that it doesn’t warrant a cast. Broken collarbones are healed in slings. Slings are not that cool, mostly because nowhere on a sling would friends and teachers be signing their heartfelt messages of goodwill and adoration. Fortunately I broke my wrist at the same time as my collarbone, and that meant I got at least one cast. (It was white. My parents refused to let me get a color, although, to this day I still have no idea why that was. Also I don’t understand why they never, ever got me a trampoline, which is something I asked for every Christmas and every birthday over the past seven years).

The excitement of the cast faded once I realized this meant I could not do something else I loved dearly; sucking my thumb. At the age of five this was definitely the worst thing that had ever happened to me. And it only got worse. Not only would I be unable to suck my thumb for the duration of the bone-healing process, but I would have to cease all my winter sport activity.

You guys. This is Maine we are talking about. There is nothing for kids to do in the winter in Maine but winter sports.  Even at the age of five I had already been skiing for two years and was just a few months into my second year of taking figure skating lessons (people from Maine are America’s answer to Norwegians, and I know this because we had a lot of Norwegians who would visit my parents and stay with us every winter), and even at that small age, I was pretty sure I was already destined for the Winter Olympics in something. But no more thumb sucking and no more sports? Yes, this broken collarbone and wrist double whammy was definitely the worst thing that had ever happened to me. And the question I had to ask myself was, was it worth it for the cast? And if not, what was I thinking? THAT’S JUST IT. I WASN’T. It was Braces Logic!

Two days with the wrist cast and I had had enough. I definitely did not want the cast anymore and this was terrible. I was just five years old, with a lifetime of mistakes to be made, and I wanted to suck my thumb again, and I was curious about retainers, which I knew to be a precursor to braces.

Fortunately, bones heal. A few weeks later, both sling and cast were no longer needed, and I resumed the thumb sucking until I was ten (at which point I was bribed by my parents to stop the habit for either fifty dollars or to have my ears pierced. I got my ears pierced, which I regret to this day, because a clever ten-year-old would have accepted the fifty dollars and then used a portion of that money for the ear piercing. Apparently my interest in jewelry clouded my judgment, which is possibly a problem all women face, at one time or another).

I had also gotten over my interest in having a broken bone and cast. Been there, done that (time for braces!). But of course, accidents have remained a pretty steady occurrence in my life. You’d think it would be something I would grow out of, but like neon colors and stickers, it’s not. Some of the more notable breaks of the past twenty-some-odd years include: the other wrist (roller-skating), the fifth metatarsal of my left foot (I was jumping on my bed), and three broken toes (one of which I had to tap-dance in a chorus line on; the other from walking into a wall; and the most recent, which happened earlier this week when I was doing yoga in my backyard and came down out of a headstand particularly hard).

My point here isn’t that I’m the world’s clumsiest human being, or most accident-prone child to ever have lived in the state of Maine. I’m quite sure I’m neither of those things and I’m quite sure other people have likely had many more broken bones than I. And yes I did end up with braces (as has been well-documented), and the novelty of those wore off very quickly.

See, my point here is that I’ve never been prescribed eyeglasses, and if you apply my theory of Braces Logic, then hopefully that’s exactly what I’m going to get next. It’s going to suck.

(Image via Shutterstock.)

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