Telling Tails

A few years ago, I broke my tailbone.  My shoes slipped on our carpeted stairs and the next thing I knew I was bouncing like a ball.  Bump, bump, bump.

Basketball in mid-air positionI was bruised and so sore.  As anyone who has fallen on their tailbone can tell you, the pain of sitting or lying in bed makes it difficult to be comfortable, and getting up from a sitting position to stand is more painful yet.  What is worse is that there is nothing to be done for a broken coccyx, except to wait for it to heal and for the pain to go away.

Since my fall, I am cautious when coming down the stairs.  I usually watch my steps and my footing.  I sometimes even count the steps so I don’t miss one.  I just don’t want to go through that again.

Well guess what happened to me a couple weeks ago?  My shoes slipped on the carpet and my feet went out from under me and I fell down the stairs again!  While I don’t think it’s broken this time, my tailbone is so sore again.  I feel it when I walk and especially when I sit.  Ouch!  How could this have happened to me again?  And why is it that the tailbone, something the human body has outgrown the need for, must make its presence known through so much agonizing pain??   At least there should be a tail attached if I’m going to suffer the consequences of falling on it, right?

This reminds me of a conversation I had with some first grade children this year.  As the children were coloring in the lesson packets that the Health teacher had distributed, I walked around the room, engaging them in light conversation about the lesson.  When I saw what they were coloring, I guess it seemed curious to me that the characters in the packets were animals made to look human, and that they were dressed in clothing.  I mean, wouldn’t it have made more sense to have people characters who are dressed in clothing?  And some of the characters had tails, too.  Tails and clothing didn’t make any sense to me, but maybe whoever created the packet thought the characters would appeal to kids.

I asked a few children about how they would feel if they could have a tail.   I was expecting to hear about how much fun it would be to use a tail like an additional appendage; to hang about or to lean on, or to swat flies or do some other useful action.  I imagined children swinging from trees like monkeys and balancing on tails like kangaroos. I pictured cute little pig tails and pony tails, bushy squirrel tails and circus elephants walking tail to trunk.  I thought of all the ways the children could express their feelings, from wagging their excitement to walking with tails between the legs, ashamed.  So many wonderful tails and tail uses to consider!

Mother and Baby Elephant

Instead, a thoughtful boy informed me that if he had a tail, he might have to worry that someone else would pull it!  Hmm…he did have a good point.  Maybe with a tail, you’d have to worry about someone accidentally stepping on it, or worse still, falling on it when your shoes slip on the carpeted stairs…that wouldn’t be so fun.  And what if you broke it?  Ugh…I shudder to think about it.

You know, maybe there’s a reason we don’t have tails.  Now if we could just evolve past the tailbone!


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