Broken Bones and Princesses

As I talked about in my last blog (, my job has changed and I now work entirely in middle schools.  It is a pretty drastic change but I am adjusting.  I enjoyed my time with elementary kids and have decided to write a short series about some of my favorite elementary memories (details altered to protect confidentiality and, more importantly, to keep me from getting in trouble).  Yesterday, I went to the juvenile home to work with a young lady. As I entered the facility I realized that I was not going to be working with many cute little kindergartners anymore and started thinking about Renee.

Renee was a super-cute kindergartner. She was the girl with the really big glasses, ponytails, dressed in sparkly girl clothes,  and  carried a Cinderella back-pack. She even had little unicorns attached to the backpack. I think I saw three unicorns one time. Basically, when a class of kindergartners walked by, people looked at Renee and said, “awwww.”

One day I was standing in the office when Renee and staff came flying in. Renee was white as a ghost and it looked like she had a new elbow. She had fallen and her arm was obviously broken. It literally took a 90 degree turn between her elbow and wrist and was just flopping.  Renee was standing in the office screaming, kids were panicking, and one staff member wretched when she saw the arm. I got Renee out of the office and into a backroom. We elevated her arm, got ice on it and I got most of the adults to leave. There were too many people.

At this point there was nothing to do but wait. Renee was screaming and every time she moved I could see the bones shifting. I could not calm her. Finally, I noticed her Cinderella backpack on the floor and said, “I met Cinderella.”  Renee froze and said, “Really?”  I knew I might have an in.

That summer I had gone to Disney World.  Their Festival of Fantasy Parade features a lot of Disney Princesses. I had a great spot and had taken a ton of pictures to share with a co-workers daughter.  It took over 40 minutes before we could get a paramedic to school (long story. don’t ask).  For forty minutes, Renee and I sat and looked at pictures of Aurora, Rapunzel and Tinkerbell.  Occasionally, she would glance at her arm, look me straight in the eye and start screaming.  When this happened I would make up a story of getting to meet a princess and she would listen.  I only had so many pictures so after a few minutes, I was stuck fabricating conversations I had when I supposedly had met Belle or Anna.  I was desperately creating fiction to match my pictures. I had to. When I stopped, she remembered her arm and would start screaming. And when she screamed, she moved. And when she moved, I could see bones shift.  Forty minutes is a long time to talk to anyone. Try having a conversation that long about my favorite princess or spinning stories to a hysterical five-year-old with a shattered arm. Throw in a bursting bladder from the gallon of coffee I require to survive my day and you have some of the longest forty minutes of your life.

The paramedics eventually took Renee.  She ended up having multiple surgeries and was out for quite a bit of time before returning with a bright pink cast. Of course it was pink.  Why do I like this story?  Super cute girls getting their arms busted should not make for favorite memories.

One.  It makes me feel a little less weird about being a thirty-nine year old man with pictures of Disney Princesses still on his phone. I really need to synch my phone one of these days.

Two. Disney stuff is powerful.  Seriously, that girl sat for a long time, in a really nasty situation, and was largely mesmerized by pictures of fictitious characters. I find that amazing.

Finally, Renee reminds me how resilient kids are and how so many of them can cling to positives and forget negatives.  Renee came back and talked to me every time she saw me in the hallway for the rest of the year.  She never once mentioned surgery. She never said a word about what must have been serious pain. The only acknowledgement she ever gave me about the accident was to once show off her pink cast.

Instead, every time she saw me, she would wave, cock her hips to the side, put her fists on her hips and say, “Hey!  Do you know who the princess of the day is today?”  I would have to stop, make my eyes wide and reply, “No!  Who is it today?”  Renee would throw her hands up in the air into a dramatic pose and say, “Iiiiiit’s Elsa!”  or “It’s Merida !”  My job was to pump my fist and say, “Yes. One of my favorites!”

I do not get a lot of positives in my line of work. By the nature of my job, I rarely am told good things. People come to me when they need something or something bad has happened.  If things are going well, I am not needed.  I see and hear things that are hard to forget and really affect how I see our society.  That’s just the nature of being a school psychologist.  That’s also the reason I have to occasionally remember the Renees of the world.  The tough little ones that move past adversity and focus on the bright, happy spots of life.  And if that means I have to be referred to as “The Princess Guy,” I’ll take it.  Small price to pay.

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