swing, broken bone

Every kid occasionally comes up with a dumb idea—trying to get a broken bone for attention is one of them.

I’ll never forget the summer at the cabin when I purposefully tried to break my own leg. To properly set the stage, I should probably back up a bit.
There was a stretch of time during my grade school years when it seemed like everyone and their brother had a broken bone. At least once a month, one of my classmates hobbled into school sporting a bright white cast that was begging to be christened by a Sharpie.

Teachers presented the injured Annie (or Andy) with suckers, stickers and super-awesome pity treats like chill time in the comfy rocker during silent reading.

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While my accident-prone peers fell from the monkey bars, took tumbles at the skating rink and plummeted from flimsy tree branches, I was left wondering when I would catch a break – a literal one. When would I get a chance to shine, whine, and dine on cherry-flavored lollipops?
So, during the last week of summer vacation, I decided to take hold of fate. While perched on the boat’s swim platform, I reflected on which bone I wanted to fracture. A busted-up leg meant that I could recruit a peer to carry my lunch tray. A shattered arm, however, would likely earn me extra time to finish tests.

Since crutches seemed to score additional points on the sympathy scale, I aimed low. We had swings on our property that were attached to some trees. Those swings swung mighty high. If I jumped from the highest point and landed full force on one leg, surely it would snap like a twig. Looking back, I can see that unlike my bones, my plan had a few cracks.

I plopped down on the wooden swing, took a deep breath and started pumping my legs. Then, I closed my eyes tight, released my grip on the ropes and took a flying leap.

Boom. Like a cat with nine lives, I landed squarely on my feet.

Grumbling, I climbed back onto the swing, pumped my legs with military precision, then let go and surrendered to gravity. This time when I hit earth, I faceplanted in loose gravel.

Sore, but still in one piece, I fumed, “What gives?”

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I repeated the process three more times, each time expecting to hear a snap, crackle or pop from some part of my body. But no such luck.
My peers made it look so easy! One girl managed to dislocate her shoulder while filling her dog’s food dish. Another kid tore up his knee while retrieving the mail. I mean, come on!

As I prepared to hurl myself from the apex of the swing one final time, a heart-stopping thought flashed across my mind. I still had six more days at the cabin. That meant six more days of swimming and skiing, fishing and Frisbee, tubing and tree-climbing. I couldn’t do any of that with a cast encasing a limb.

I slowed my leg pump and settled into a leisurely swing. If the universe wanted me to remain in one piece, who was I to argue?
Just then my brother came running down to the lake.

“Christy, grab your snorkel!” he hollered. “We’re gonna go work on the log!”

Every summer my brother and I swam out near the buoy to a giant log that was buried deep in the sandy lake bottom.

Due to storms and constantly shifting sand, not to mention the sheer weight of the log, we never could (and likely never would) unearth it completely. Still, we had fun with this annual wet and wild archeological dig.

“I’m coming!” I shouted as I leapt off the swing from a sensible distance.

I didn’t break a bone, but I may have broken a record for fastest run down to the shoreline.

See also Why the Cabin is Our Happy Place

Christy Heitger-Ewing thinks that if everyone could experience life at a cabin, the world would be a happier place.