Timothy the Acrobat

Timothy#1 (10)This is a story about Timothy, a little boy who did a little TOO well at something and got a lot more than he bargained for! He’s not a little boy any more, but he still gets adventurous sometimes. Hence “Timothy’s cane”, which happened earlier this year.

This particular story happened… oh, about eleven years ago.



About 8pm tonight, I was working at my computer with my headphones on, when I became aware of a huge disturbance to my left. I took the headphones off, and sure enough, Timothy (age 10) was hollering — from the landing. Somehow I knew what had happened, but don’t ask me how, because I don’t know. It seems like I must have seen something from the corner of my eye which meant nothing at first, but a second later and in combination with the loud thump and Timothy’s hollering from down in the entryway… it added up very quickly in my mind, to his doing a somersault over the back of the couch, flying over the railing and landing seven feet below. On his hands and knees. Ian just happened to be coming up from the basement, in time to see him come flying over, but not in time to grab him. Thankfully he didn’t land on the stairs themselves. As it is, it took quite a while of Ian crouching in the landing holding Timothy, curled up in a fetal position, crying inconsolably… before he quieted down enough to be lifted and carried upstairs by both Ian and James, and laid carefully on the couch. He wouldn’t straighten his knees, but kept them bent as Ian leaned against them to hold them up. He said both knees hurt but especially the left one. And his right wrist, I thought. In trying to find out which hurt worse, his knee or his wrist, I found out it wasn’t his wrist, but his thumb, at the base, by the web between it and his forefinger.

Everyone in the family was crowded around, including two very concerned dogs. Even Raewyn, who I had just found out an hour earlier is sick with a fever. Irene said from downstairs it had sounded as if someone had thrown Timothy downstairs.

Timothy lay on his back on the couch, holding his injured hand with his other one, and still howling in pain. We got him to separate his hands and hold his right hand on edge so we could assess the situation.

We tried a number of things to help him settle down so we could make a decision as to whether to take him to the ER or not. We didn’t want to take him in for poking and prodding unless it is necessary, but neither did we want to have him waking up in agony in the middle of the night, only to take him in and find out we should have done so right away.

Before too long Timothy had allowed Ian to lay his legs down on the couch, and he said his left knee only hurt a little. By this time he had settled down considerably and was resting quietly. Ian fitted him with a homemade sling and we had him lie down on his own bed for awhile before taking another look at the situation.

Timothy was lying on his bed reading Grey Seas Under, when I went to examine him. His thumb is swollen, but he is able to move it both up and down, and from side to side. He said it really hurts to move it. We don’t have any ice right now, but we do have some small sandwich bags of frozen bananas in the freezer. I got him all set up with the bananas, and then came out to the living room to tell Irene and Ian how he was doing. Irene was relieved, because she was sure he would need to see a doctor, and that she would be appointed chauffeur.

Ian said, “Yeah, well, when you take this in addition to a few other facts… You know that Timothy has been hobbling around for a couple of days now…” Yes, I knew that. He’s been using a stout stick as walking stick, and leaning on it as he hobbles from one place to another. Apparently he had hurt his hip. He was just nicely getting over that. And then Ian said, while unable to keep a straight face, “Do you know what he said tonight? He said if it hadn’t hurt so much it would have been fun!!”

The story has since come out. Some of us were wondering how he happened to do a somersault over the back of the couch. When we asked him, he said, “Because I was jumping too high.” Well, it was rather hard not to laugh. Later someone else asked again, and Ian said, “He was jumping on the couch while holding onto the railing… jumped too high and his feet kept right on going over his head, and his body followed.” Ahem. Let’s just hope this is a successful object lesson for Nathaniel (age 4), who is quite aware of what happened even though he didn’t actually see it.

This incident was the realization of a nightmare I have privately entertained ever since moving to this house in October 2002. You see, when you come in the front door, the stairs are straight ahead, and to your left is a half wall, the top of which is the living room floor — because it is a bi-level. There is a wrought-iron railing going the length of the half wall. It is a small two-bedroom house — a total of 1500 square feet when you include the basement. Since we had to squeeze a family of nine into this small house, we had to think of space efficiency as well as safety when considering what was going to go where in the living room. Anything we put in front of the railing would be a problem, because of the danger of things flying over the edge to the stairs below. We decided the safest thing to put in front of the railing would be our long, heavy couch.

My fear has been that Nathaniel, just-turned-three when we moved in, would go flying over the railing and land head first below. He was told in no uncertain terms that there was to be no fooling around on the couch, and certainly no climbing on the back of it. I never expected to have to caution Timothy directly. Well, tonight’s incident was proof that you can not assume even an intelligent child will recognize folly when considering it. Timothy has never jumped on the couch before.

It also served as a reminder that things can and do happen under Mom’s nose, yet quite outside her ken. I was sitting right here in the room, and didn’t know he was jumping on the couch.

© Willena Flewelling


  1. Hi Willena,

    Kids can sometimes cause you to feel like they have given you a heart attack and then the guilt sinks in when you think,”I should have thought of that.” You can’t think of everything that a little one or even an older one will do.

    I hope Timothy is doing okay.
    Monna Ellithorpe recently posted…Join A Community That Is Your One-Stop PlaceMy Profile

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