A Letter To Our Son, Who Just Broke His Arm

Aiden sling

My son, you amaze me.

This week you broke your arm jumping off a swing. It is thankfully not a bad break, but painful nonetheless.

Always the cautious child, I was surprised the first time you showed me your new swing-jumping skill. I was so proud of you for trying something new, and a little riskier than I expected from you.

And you jumped SO HIGH!

And stuck the landing.


I considered the risk and whether I should ask you to not do it again. But your dad and I want you to be free to be a KID. Plus, I jumped off of many swings and monkey bars when I was your age.

And sometimes I fell too.

Many jumps later, you got off balance and broke your fall with your wrist. On the grass. Who knew a bone could break from something simple like that?

I knew you were really hurt when you were hoarse from screaming before you could even tell me what happened as a neighbor walked you to the front yard.

Even then. In your tears. You were so brave.

Many tears, deep breaths, an ice pack, and a root beer float later, you actually decided you’d rather play than go home.

It’s OK that after a few minutes you came back in tears, ready to go.

It really hurt. And you were brave for trying., and wise to know when it was time to stop.

That night, we iced it, and you went to sleep with nothing more than Tylenol in your system. It’s OK that you woke up several times in tears.

Knowing what we know now, I’m surprised you slept at all.

In the morning, you woke bright-eyed and said you thought it felt a little better. I watched you all morning, playing, but careful not to move it up and down.

When I asked, you were willing to try moving it. You winced in pain, but tried anyway. You were adamant that you could go and play with friends that morning.

You played all morning long and had a blast, arm cradled close to your body. After seeing you cradle it all morning, we headed to the doctor.

The doctor isn’t your favorite place, but you are always willing to go and to do what they ask of you.

Even when you’re terrified.

Through the years you have battled some serious woes – reflux, repeated pneumonia, ear infections, allergy skin and blood testing, wheezing and asthma, and more. Many kids don’t know the doctors as well as you do. But they also don’t have to be truly brave because they haven’t experienced the things you have as you head into the office.

I am always amazed that even though you are afraid there, you understand that they are going to help you and that we need to be there. You don’t fight me as we go in the door, and you accept that some of what may happen might not be fun.

I promise to always be honest with you about what will happen there – I know you can handle it, and will always be right there with you.

As we waited to see if we needed an x-ray, you asked all kinds of questions. I love your curiosity and how you carefully listen to understand. I love watching you quietly process the words and to hear the next question.

You are incredibly smart. A wise soul in the body of a 5.5 year old.

As the doctor asked you to move your wrist, you knew it was going to hurt, but you did everything she asked you to do. You held still as she gently examined your arm.

I was so proud as I heard you thank her before she left the room. And then you thanked the nurses and x-ray technician, too, as we saw them one by one.

You weren’t so sure about that huge x-ray machine, but you sat still, and watched with cautious curiosity as they prepped everything. Even though the position for each x-ray wasn’t comfortable, and I had to leave your side to stand behind the wall, you sat still. You anxiously looked for my face in the window, but did exactly as they asked.

When we told you ‘good job’, I saw you light up. You knew you did it just right.

Then it was fun to see your face light up when they showed you your x-rays and you saw your bones.

You were so excited! It isn’t every day you get to see a picture of your bones! Although a broken bone isn’t fun, you still emanate joy despite your circumstances.

Tired of waiting, I could see that deep down, you just wanted to know what came next – even if it meant the bone was broken.

As with so many other doctor’s visits in the past, you are always willing to hear the hard news – sometimes more than I am.

You meet these battles head-on.

When the doctor returned, I could see on her face that the bone was broken. She soberly explained what happened to your bone to cause a buckle fracture in the radius.

You listened carefully. You asked a couple of questions.

Then you quietly accepted the truth, turning to tell me it was broken, just in case I didn’t understand.

You held very still as they prepared the splint and wrapped your arm, even as your arm got tired from holding it out and above your head. I could see the fascination on your face as you watched what they were doing. Even though the splint and sling were uncomfortable, you were willing to wear them.

No fuss.

And when the doctor explained how we couldn’t take the splint off, you quietly nodded.

Always willing to do as they ask, even when it may mean the end of summer water fun.

Walking to the car, you kindly asked for help with your seat belt, offering suggestions for how the sling could go on top of the belt.

My little troubleshooter. If you want to, you will make a brilliant engineer one day.

And as the sling belt dug into your neck, you told ME it was OK, you were going to be fine. You were so sweet, thanking me as I placed a soft towel underneath to make it more comfortable.

You are one tough, thoughtful and grateful kid.

It was surely disappointing when we came home and all your friends were outside playing but we had to go inside because the temporary sling wasn’t dry or set yet.

And as you asked me questions about playing in water, riding your scooter, and bike, and more that wouldn’t be a good idea right now, I saw the sadness in your eyes.

But then you took a deep breath and again, reassured ME, saying…’It’s OK mom. I don’t care if I broke my arm. I’ll be OK’. And, even better, ‘I’m glad God made our body so it can heal’ (be still my heart!).

What more could we ask of you?

Easy going. Brave. Calm.

With a good attitude even with a broken bone in the middle of summer.

We get the cast on Monday. It wont’ be fun wearing it for the rest of the summer, but I know you are going to be OK, just like you told me. There will be disappointment, but I can already tell you are going to make the most of this.

This morning you made me laugh as you asked me to put your eye patch on you so you could play pirate with your sister.


A broken arm cannot touch your imagination, sweet pirate.

Today I’m writing this because I see you. I am proud of you. I am grateful for your positive attitude and joyful heart. I see your childlike faith and trust that God will heal you.

Today, you have encouraged ME, your mom – and I’m not the one with the broken arm.

Thank you.

I love you.

I promise you I will find fun activities for you to do with a cast and your one arm.

And to tell you just how much I love you and just how proud of you I am – today, and every day.


7 Tricks To Curb Car-Ride Complaining

7 tricks

We’ve all experienced frustration as we hop in the car after a day of fun in the sun when a tired child opens their mouth and complaining spills out.

We know the feeling of exasperation that EVEN after we spent the entire day engaged in making them happy, they respond with complaining instead of contentment.

About true things.

About silly things.

About nothing.

While frustrating, it is understandable that children are prone to complaining. Adults complain too – when they’re tired, or hot, or hungry, or thirsty, or bored, or when there is no good reason for it at all.

Of course our children are going to struggle with it too.

I do. More than I’d like to admit.

The problem is, complaining is infectious. It can create a vicious cycle that goes something like this:

Our family has a fun day. Everyone is tired. It takes just one complaint to send our family down the complaining rabbit hole. We request the complaining stop. They complain some more. We become frustrated. Scolding a tired child to stop complaining generates more complaining, and potentially tears. We find ourselves complaining about THEIR complaining and maybe even asking if we need to ‘pull this car over’.

It takes awareness and effort to stop the complaining cycle and to redirect. As parents, we need to recognize and prepare for the very real chance that our child WILL be a stick-in-the-mud at some point this summer.

Or…gasp…that it might be US who allow that first complaint to escape our lips.

Complaining happens.

Tired people, enclosed spaces and boredom make the car a place with high potential for complaining. We need a game-plan to curb the complaining, without threatening to pull the car over to the curb!

Whether the complaining is ours or theirs, we need to stop it in its tracks so we have the chance to finish fun days well.

7 Tricks To Curb Car-Ride Complaining | thisgratefulmama.com

7 Tricks To Curb Car-Ride Complaining


Yes, you! Children emulate their parents. A complaining parent will have a complaining child. If we want our children to stop complaining, we need to lead by example. Listen to your own words during the day. What are you complaining about? The weather? Your relationships? Your clothes? Your child’s complaining? Whatever it is – STOP IT. It is better to be silent than to demonstrate complaining to your children.

2. Apologize

No one is perfect. Even the most purposeful and grateful mama is going to complain. Pay attention! When you catch yourself complaining, stop AND THEN talk to your children about it. Tell them you’re sorry for having a bad attitude. CHOOSE to stop and demonstrate moving on with a positive attitude. Give them a real-life example to emulate.

3. Demonstrate Gratitude

Actively try to replace complaining words and thoughts with gratitude. Let your children hear you giving thanks and praise to God and others MORE than they hear anything else. Be sure to thank your spouse, children and others generously. Encourage children to thank each other. Try focusing on gratitude while walking to the car and during those first moments IN the car. It can set the tone for the whole ride home!

4. Reminisce

Stop car-ride complaining by sharing your favorite moments of the day. As you talk about the fun you had, children can begin to think about the fun they had. Be engaged and listen attentively as they share their favorite moments. If you can, extend their story by asking leading questions (What about when…? How did you feel when…? Wasn’t it fun when…?). The longer they spend recalling the best of the day, the longer their mind is off of anything that leads to complaining.

5. Praise Them

Instead of demanding that a child stop complaining, redirect them with praise. Tell them how they made you proud that day. What did they do today that was kind, helpful, gentle, loving or patient? What did they do that was new, challenging, or out of their comfort zone today? While a child may have trouble shifting from complaining to joy simply by being instructed to do so, praising what they do well can help them see their circumstances from a different perspective. Help them make the leap by lifting them up. Extend the praise by going around, addressing each child in the car and encourage each child to lift their siblings up as well.

6. Planned Distractions

An over-tired child has trouble with transitions. When getting ready for a long, fun day, think about what will help your child transition at the end of the day. If you are pushing nap time back or skipping nap time altogether, consider bringing your child’s comfort blanket or toy. If an activity involves changing the normal meal schedule, bring extra snacks and drinks. If a long drive is required, throw in a few toys, kids CDs or books to keep them busy and focused on something other than complaining. If you haven’t planned ahead, engage your family in a game of I-Spy, sing a song, or start counting SOMETHING (trucks, red cars, blue cars, planes, birds, cows).

7. Pray Together

Pray when you get in the car, BEFORE anyone has had the chance to complain. Thank God for the fun day, for memories made, for each family member, and ask Him to help your family finish the day with grateful hearts. Prayer can effectively and powerfully set the tone for every one in the car. 

How do you curb car-ride complaining?

If you’re hopping in the car after a public meltdown, check out these tips as well! 7 DO’s and DON’Ts after your Child’s Public Meltdown

When Your Child is Bullied…Emotions Run Wild

I am proud of my son. We recently went to a park with friends where a child smaller than him decided that every time he touched one of those big metal, lever-operated sand diggers, that she was going to pry his little fingers off of it.

She wasn’t using it beforehand, waiting in line, or giving any indication that she might want to use it. But, apparently she did want to use it when she saw HIM using it. And that desire was great enough to approach a much older, taller child and take a turn. By force.

The first time, I didn’t see it. He was waiting in line to use the digger with a few other children. There were several other parents nearby and everything appeared calm. I turned to help my daughter with something. Suddenly he was by my side in tears, saying he wanted to use the digger.

Since I didn’t understand what had happened, I thought he was just being impatient. I walked over there with him and told him I’d wait with him. I took a seat on the cement ledge and waited as he stood in line. Soon enough, his turn came and the smile broke through. He moved the digger into the sand and scooped once, before a tiny blond girl came over and started pulling on his arm.

He looked at her, eyes wide, continued trying to dig, and as she continued pulling on any body part she could reach. Finally, he looked to me for help.

I asked her to stop touching his body, and to wait her turn, and that he would be done very soon. She looked directly at me, briefly appeared surprised that I spoke to her, and then proceeded to pull backwards his pinky finger with her whole body straining as she yanked. HARD.

Wincing, he shook his hand free, and tried to return it to the handle, only to find her victorious hand already there. She was now using her entire tiny body to shove him out of her way.

Despite her small stature and age, her methods were BIG.

At this point, since no parent around me intervened, I asked my son to come sit by me until she was finished. His eyes widened in confusion and filled with tears.

He knew it was his turn. He knew this wasn’t fair.

As he waited in my lap with hurt feelings and tears streaming, I told him I was sorry for what happened and he could have another turn when she was done. I asked my son if that had happened before, he nodded and said she took his turn earlier. I apologized to him and told him I didn’t know that had happened.

At some point, something I said to my son made another nearby parent realize the little girl wasn’t MY child. She said since I had intervened, she figured the girl was mine and it was a sibling argument. I told her I was hesitant to ask her to stop with my son because I wasn’t sure whose child she was, but wasn’t OK with her hurting his hands. The parent said the little girls behavior had spanned over many children and had been going on for some time.

Soon after the girl finished with the digger, she wandered into the sandbox and took the toy of the child whose parent I was talking to. The boy was younger than her, and promptly hit her in the back of the head as she took off with his shovel. He was met with a time out. Again, I saw that same confused, sad expression, as this child’s eyes, too, filled with tears. Despite the hit, she seemed unscathed.

It is hard to stomach watching a child realize that life IS NOT FAIR. That even if they are required to follow rules to treat others kindly, others may not follow those same rules.

Sigh. These lessons are painful for the child, and for the parent to watch. Even at 2 and 3, life just is not fair.

While my son’s big tears broke my heart, his response to her almost made my heart burst with PRIDE.

He was kind to her. Gentle. He never even pushed her hand away or touched her prying hands that were surely hurting his. All his motions were to get away, not to lash out. When he didn’t know what to do, he didn’t improvise and try her methods, he looked to me to intervene.

Despite handling it in a way I was proud of, these interactions had a profound effect on him. He never quite recovered while we were at the park. Later, he was easily upset, and visibly distressed when the same little girl came near, and when she took some sand toys from him and other children. He was always aware of her presence, and his body language was not afraid of, but surely wary of her. Still, he did not lash out.

As a parent, watching all of this was frustrating. How can one little person cause so much turmoil?

I was angry at her invisible parent or caregiver whose lack of supervision and correction was affecting HER as well as many other children. It would be one thing if it happened once and they had missed it, but instead, it was as if everywhere this child went, tears followed.

At no point did an accompanying parent or older sibling speak to her about her behavior, and it left my son rattled and in tears, several times.

I had trouble not being frustrated at the child, but let’s be honest, she was a 2-year-old, and although her behavior was certainly not OK, it was still that of a 2-year-old. I don’t think this child was simply being defiant or a bully. She was too small to really understand how getting her own way at another person’s expense is wrong.

This behavior is LEARNED, and then NOT CORRECTED. 

I think her surprise at my correction indicated a complete lack of correction in her life. She may not have known better. Considering this, I worry for her future, and am saddened by the disregard for discipline that will help her long-term. The neglect of her parent means she will either learn she can get away with this behavior, or she will learn the HARD way, as other children lash out at her and stop them on their own.

I cannot imagine the feelings I will have when the bullying is meaner, from older kids, and intentional. I can only guess those feelings will be amplified and powerful.

I never want to experience what comes if I ever find out MY child was treating others in this manner, or worse.

If my son is near someone who ends up in tears, I ask what happened. I don’t assume it was his fault, but if something happened that involved him, I want to make sure he either apologizes, or at a minimum tells the other person he hopes they feel better.

In essence, to be kind. Have empathy. Be aware of others feelings.

Don’t get me wrong, my son is not perfectly behaved, and wasn’t that day at the park either. I watched him try to ‘swap’ with another boy; when he wanted a truck the boy had, he TOOK the truck and gave the boy something else that the child obviously didn’t want. As a result, we asked him to return the boy’s toy and apologize. When we were done playing, he thanked the kids and parents in the sandpit for sharing their toys with him.

I’m sure these lessons were confusing to his young mind. First of all, we’ve rarely encountered other children who when spoken to by ANY adult, do not stop their behavior. He knows that he is supposed to listen to all adults. Second, he knows that he would not be able to continue playing until he has time out and apologizes. And third, he has sadly now learned that even if someone else doesn’t follow those same rules (over and over), he still has to.

I’ve been teaching my son the following bible verse, to help with sibling squabbles:

Be kind to one another, be tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

(we have explained tender-hearted as gentle, and caring for the feelings of others)

On the way home we talked about how he felt at the park, and how we never want to make anyone else feel that way. Despite his confusion, I could see the understanding and empathy for others’ feelings. That night, when he brought it up again, we talked about the verse and how God says it is important to forgive others and to be kind to everyone.

I wish I could have had the same conversations with that little girl. I know she could have the same empathy if SHOWN and INSTRUCTED.

Ephesians 4:32

Ephesians 4:32