For me, it was mostly a blur. For the 13 year old, it was mostly about Facebook.
What do you do when reporting to the scene of your own child’s accident? I did it. I barely registered these peripherals: A firetruck. A police car. An ambulance. A school bus FULL of alert, chattering faces, all looking out at us. More firemen than could possibly have fit in the truck. A red car which was clearly the culprit. The dear bus driver. The neighbors who had knocked on my door. The sudden and miraculous appearance of a friend from across town, offering me a ride to the hospital following the ambulance.
My daughter wanted to use my phone at the hospital to Facebook her friends about the accident, and I didn’t let her, as we needed to be attentive and helpful to the people who were still attending to her.
But perhaps even more, I felt that Facebooking from the hospital was unseemly in a way I couldn’t quite explain to myself. Was it Inappropriate attention-seeking, when she hadn’t really been “harmed?” (but of course she’d been harmed. Someone HIT HER BODY. With a CAR.)
We came home and she immediately headed for the computer, and I heard myself telling her not to “over-communicate.” Then I realized I was censoring her, and for no good reason.
“Why not?” asked the wiser woman inside of me.
Why not let her reach out to her friends, immersing herself in a reassuring buzz of “Plz tell me what happnd!” and “I am so GLAD ur okay!” Why not let her tell her story over and over, processing it by sharing it? Why not allow her to redeem her own story by taking the lead in telling it?
So I changed my mind. “Communicate AWAY!” I said. “ALL you want to!”
And she did. She tapped away for a couple hours on Facebook, where the news was already spreading through Middle School Land. Several new “friend requests” appeared from breathless thrill seekers who wanted to be closer to the action. Chat messages bipped like popcorn from friends and people she hardly knew.
Was it unseemly? I decided not. My daughter was motoring along on her own power, getting what she needed, and learning she could at the same time. Why did she deserve it any less just because she hadn’t actually broken any bones?
And, as I reminded myself, there WAS hurt here. My little girl’s trust had been violated, her PERSON had been violated in a way she didn’t expect or deserve, by someone who had physically struck her with a lethal ton of steel. She had been exposed to a bus full of her adolescent peers who had eagerly watched her for 30 minutes in the immediate aftermath of the accident, some even snapping pictures of her with their cell phones. So why shouldn’t she re-fashion herself as a bit of a heroine? Why shouldn’t she even have, YES, a bit of a bask in her 15 minutes of fame? (She confessed, a couple of times, to wishing she had at least a splint…)
School the day after was much more of the same for her. Everyone was talking about the kid who had been run over… by a car? a bus? The nurse called her out of class. The principal called her out of class. It could have been awful, but my daughter chose not to let it be. And how proud my daughter’s friends were to know her, getting their OWN share of attention by bearing the much-coveted details.
On the bus home the day after, there was silence as my daughter walked down the aisle to her seat. The bus driver stood and gave a lecture to the kids about safety, calling my daughter ”one lucky chick” and describing how he’d almost had a heart attack watching her get hit the day before, and almost hadn’t come to work this day.
And when her bus stop came, there was silence again as my daughter got off the bus. She carefully crossed the street, turned, and waved. And the entire bus burst into cheers!
Cue the theme from “The Natural,” and Hurray for The Kid who Lived to Ride the Bus Another Day!