Kristina Beers: Experience is sometimes the best teacher

By Kristina Beers

Special to the Pioneer

Our fourth son incurred an injury just before Christmas. He and his younger brother, the only two still living at home, went in together to purchase a used snowmobile. We have owned snow machines before so it wasn’t as if they did not know how to operate one, but it’s been long enough for them both to be overly excited to get it running and go for a spin in the fresh powder.

The excitement was palpable as they both worked on it in the garage for almost an entire day. I had a meeting that particular evening so I didn’t get the see the chain of events that occurred, but in a short span of two hours, the machine went from being under repair, to running, to broken down again, with an injury in between. Boys are fast that way.

When I came home, I could see Beers Boy No. 4 through the window sitting at the dining table. My motherly instinct went on alert as I observed his position through the glass, so when I walked in, I asked, “What happened?”

“What do you mean, mom? Why do you think something happened?”

“Well, I didn’t, but you just confirmed it, so what’s going on?”

Turns out their collective excitement trumped any prudence on the part of 16- and 17-year-old boys (if there even IS any prudence!) Beers boy No. 4 did a poor job of scouting our field before he went rocketing down the path. A rock was peeking up from the terrain, masked by the snow, which sent his ski of the sled tipping up like a Cypress Gardens vintage waterski show that missed the ramp halfway. He bailed on the left side for fear the sled was going to do a full flip; he rocketed along the ground on his shoulder while the sled slowed to a stop a hundred yards down the lane.

He drove himself home, gingerly and with one hand. His brother, who said, “I knew he hurt himself by how slow he came home,” quickly took his own turn on the sled before he got wrapped up into a trip to the hospital with an injured boy. Turns out that wasn’t such a smart move as he blew the pistons on his evening ride. A two-hour span saw the sled go, cause an injury, and subsequently blow up. Fun times.

Boys break stuff (especially body parts) and love danger. It is part of their very being, so foreign to me as a female. I was talking to an old, dear friend of our family last night and he said, “You are so alone in your household! But never is a mother more loved than a mother of boys.” Well, I hope so, but that mother has to keep all body parts in working order and house still standing by the 18th year, which is a major feat in itself.

Beers Boy No. 4 did, indeed, break a piece of his shoulder in that short but impactful trek on the snowmobile. After an ER trip, several tests and one revealing MRI, he subsequently required surgery and currently is rocking a Spectrum-designed sling for the remaining three weeks. His total recovery will come to the tune of six weeks in a sling, three months of therapy, and one year of strength-building for full mobility. All that from an impulsive tweak of the wrist.

I’m quite certain he has learned his lesson the hard way and I am glad of it. People underestimate the lessons from the school of hard knocks — a teaching style in direct opposition to the soft heart of a mother who hurts when her children are in pain or puts a sweater on the kids when she’s cold. Upon further introspection, though, I wondered about that.

A peculiarity about moms is we may be soft and mushy, but we have a core of steel and don’t mince words when we see our kids making dumb choices. We are the first to welcome a son with open arms for a warming hug when we see him struggling against the harsh realities of life; on the other hand, there is no room for patience with stupidity. If you come to me and complain the sling is bothering you after you took the sled out for an inaugural spin in the twilight, I have no ear for your complaints. Moms who subscribe to reality parenting, especially with boys, are taking on a job description right from the Army: The toughest job you’ll ever love.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

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