I have been thinking a lot about the idea of caregiving. It’s not a thing that comes naturally to me, which is why I never became a teacher or a nurse. That’s just not how I was raised.
I come from a long line of flinty-eyed women whose caregiving style can best be described as “but did you die?” There was just no time. One of my grandmothers raised 10 kids and the other one raised 9. There just wasn’t much room in that life for more than “is there a bone sticking out or is the blood actually spurting? No? Then you’re fine!” And that’s what was passed down to me. Are you dead? No? Then you’re fine.
Ironically, I spent a great deal of my childhood riding (and crashing) my bike. I had an absolutely fantastic bike that I loved – it was the Huffy Capri 10-speed, where the front of the frame was pink and the rest of it was grey and I rode that thing everywhere, all the time. We had a gravel driveway, which proved challenging. You know how out in the mountains you will see, branching off the highway, trails of gravel and signs that say things like “runaway truck path” or whatever? Because yeah, you hit gravel at speed and YOU STOP. Well, your vehicle stops. Your delicate mushy human body still obeys Newton’s First Law and keeps going a bit.
So I crashed a lot because why use brakes? My mom was usually tasked with bandaging me up, and it was not her favorite job. I get a little screamy when I’m hurt and her preferred method of disinfection (Bactine) DIDN’T HELP. That shit stings!! So she would perch me on the side of the bathtub and stand in the doorway of the bathroom and squirt the Bactine at me from across the room so she could make a speedy getaway when I Hulked out, as I always, ALWAYS did. Then she’d chuck a handful of Band-Aids at me and that would be that.
And I would get back on the bike and do it again, usually on the other side.
There wasn’t a lot of “ohhh are you okay? How are you feeling? Can I get you anything, do you need anything, here’s a whole bunch of stuff you are going to need but haven’t asked for yet because I’m anticipating your needs you poor thing LET ME TAKE CARE OF YOU!” And so, growing up, we figured out how to handle things. There’s no point in wallowing, you get on with your day.
Had this been a “normal” bike crash, I probably would have handled it exactly like that. “Did you die? No? [Bactine in a squirty bottle, run]” I’ve done that for The Teenager when she was smaller and crashed more often. She’s fairly cautious, though – perhaps that’s why. Nobody wants to be subjected to Dr Mom (who, incidentally, IS NEVER WRONG) and her ministrations.
Recovery for Freddie is going to be long. There are going to be things that he wants to do before he is ready and I get to be the person to tell him no. We were going back and forth on something yesterday and the nurse said “he’s pretty stubborn, eh?” Yeah, he is but ohhhh my god he’s no match for me, and if he doesn’t already know this, HE’S GONNA LEARN.
I think he knows, though.
I hope so.
Anyway, I’m not sure how my style of caregiving is going to mesh with the recovery that he is going to require. I’m not a particularly nurturing person anyway and he’s going to need that. I wonder if I can hire a grandma or someone to come in and do all the cosseting and coddling that he needs and indeed, deserves. Rent-A-Granny? Is that a thing? That should be a thing. My therapist says this will be an “opportunity for growth” and stuff like that so… I GUESS.
It’s just… he’s going to fight me about everything. “I want my phone back.” NO CAN DO. “Can I have my iPad?” NO, unless you delete your work email from it. “I need my laptop for something.” NO YOU DON’T. It’s going to be fun and he’s going to try to outsmart me (not bloody likely, in this life or any other) and he’s going to try to be all sneaky. But I have a secret weapon.
For the first time in my life? I can outrun him. I’ll just take his phone and iPad and laptop and jog away. [evil laugh]