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That’s a saying, “there’s a special God for children,” and while I believe there is only one God for us all, I certainly do understand the sentiments, the way we hold our breath, amazed by how the Divine hand of providence often seems to be protecting children. I can get out of bed wrong and suffer major knee trauma for months, whereas a couple of toddlers can tumble out of a third story window and somehow survive.

Naturally we should do everything we can to protect kids and keep them safe, but their resilience and ability to heal really speaks to an intelligent and deliberate design. Their fingers and toes are not yet fused, their bones are soft, their bodies are flexible, and their skulls are not yet hard. We should treat them gently and carefully, but the truth is they really are designed to take some major tumbles and come through it reasonably intact.

I have lost track of all the times I have  completely despaired, there is no way this child can survive, only to see a miracle happen. I know a child that got kicked in the head by a horse, a devastating injury that would have killed anyone else but because he was precisely 4.4 years old, he bounced back from it like a trooper. That kid, at that precise time in his development, could not have picked a better time to suffer such a major head trauma. If he’d been younger his head would have been too soft, older it would have been too hard. Everything just lined up so perfectly for that child, the location of his injury, his age, the timing, the medical care he received. One piece out of place in the puzzle and the story would have been different.

There’s a condition called nurse maid’s elbow, also known as a radial head subluxation It’s something many parents have unintentionally caused, where you grab a kid’s arm and pull their elbow out of place. This can happen when you’re trying to stop them from running in front of a car or falling down the stairs. Usually it happens to kids under five and most parents wind up feeling really awful. It doesn’t take much force, and it’s rarely intentional. What is so amazing about nursemaid’s elbow is that the ligaments are still soft and loose and it is actually the body’s natural defense against a more serious injury. It’s painful and unpleasant, but it is not a dislocated shoulder, a broken collar-bone, or a fractured arm. It is actually a miraculous design, like a shock absorber. Kids don’t come with a handle, so their arms are designed to withstand clumsy parents, who are often trying to save them from complete disaster.

I never actually popped a kid’s elbow, but I know many parents who accidentally have. I did once grab my daughter by her pony tails however, when she decided to step off a dock and go swimming in the middle of winter. She had her snow suit and snow boots on and moment the water saturated them, it became a powerful force pulling her down. Thank goodness for those pony tales which she did not appreciate at the time, but it took everything I had to pull her out.

I’ve never of forgotten those pony tales, the little plastic balls, the rubber grippers, the non skid they provided in the slippery water. She was unharmed, although quite mad at me for pulling her hair.

Just reminiscing today about children, about how they are so wonderfully and fearfully made, fragile and yet resilient.

wild things