Ahhh… Soccer on a summer night.
You look forward to your son’s soccer games. You love to watch him do what he loves to do. And soccer is all he loves to do. Morning, noon, and night. It’s his high school sport and his social life. You’re watching one of his summer league games… they play just for fun. Much of it has become your social life, chatting with the other soccer parents that you’ve gotten to know so well over the years. You become nostalgic and realize that there are only a couple years left of this and then he’s off to college.
Then he’s down.
Wait… what? You missed it… didn’t see a thing. What were you doing? Chatting? He’s not getting up… is he crying? You know you can’t go out there… it’s against the rules. Wait… whose rules? Then you try to see if any body parts are moving. Is it his head? His groin? His leg? You calculate how long since your last visit to the emergency room – two weeks – and you’re not sure how much that cost yet. He’s getting up. They’re carrying him off the field. But wait… this is summer league.
It looks like his leg? His ankle? No… please… not the ankle. You consider your work load tomorrow and how much time the hospital trip will take. You think further ahead… Scout Camp next week, then two weeks of his much-adored soccer camp, followed by soccer try-outs, then vacation… with hiking. Please not the ankle. After vacation… high school soccer preseason. Please not the ankle. You curse the fact that this didn’t happen 4 weeks ago when he had absolutely nothing to do for the first half of summer. Please, please, please not the slow-healing-ligament-tearing-ankle-sprain-thing-that-re-injures-easily.
The next day…
You’re in sports medicine. Hmmm…. it’s been a couple of months since you were here last. Your thinking insurance and you blurt out “Maybe we’ve reached our deductible.” He glares at you. X-rays are taken. It’s not broken. Damn… it’s the slow-healing-ligament-tearing-ankle-sprain-thing-that-re-injures-easily. You’re mind races to add up the cost of the soccer camps. Maybe they’re refundable? Maybe he could go and just watch? Okay, that’s kind of funny, even in this unhappy setting. He has to stay off his foot until the swelling is gone… could be weeks. You’re calculating the number of trips up and down the stairs to deliver food, drinks, and ice and how that converts into calorie loss. Six to eight weeks in an air cast with physical therapy. Wait… what?
He doesn’t handle it well and snaps at you in the car. You take him out for ice cream like he’s 5 years old and that will make it all better. It works, but only temporarily. You give him the Pollyanna lecture about the big picture…blah…blah… 8 weeks is a drop in the bucket… blah… blah… doctor’s orders… blah… blah… fully heal and play in the fall…blah… blah… You’re not even listening anymore. Eight weeks is a L-I-F-E-T-I-M-E to a sixteen year old who lives only for the game. It’s a lifetime for his mom who can’t imagine how she’s going to live with a sixteen year old who lives only for the game. His mood deteriorates and you both sulk. You buy him steak tips.
The true confession is…
I really do believe the “big picture” speech, and of course I know a sprained ankle is not the end of the world. But I can’t help but sympathize. If any of you reading this have a son or daughter who is working hard toward playing a sport in college, you know that continuous set-backs like these are more than just a bummer because your kids will be bored for a few months. They can undermine all that hard work toward their goals and dreams. It’s a competitive world for our high school kids and each sports injury throws them that much further behind, not to mention the physical toll on their bodies. And the older they get, the more aggressive the play with the more potential for injury. Hmmm…. I think I need an ice cream now.
After a week full of television, video games, round the clock ice packs, Advil, and catered meals in the basement…
His ankle’s a myriad of colors on both sides and still swollen. With the doctor’s OK, you ship him off to Scout camp (which is not his favorite even with two good ankles) with crutches, an air cast, two ice wraps, an ice bag, and Advil. You’re riddled with guilt and fear. What if he doesn’t ice it enough? I hope he doesn’t have to walk too far. Maybe we shouldn’t have let him go. But he needs those merit badges, so he goes and you hope for the best.
Because as parents, sometimes that’s the best we can do.
Any of this sound familiar? Is your child a sports fanatic like mine? Sometimes it can be pure joy and other times it can be filled with heartache. But I guess it’s no different with any other passion we may have. Some just hurt more than others.
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