I’ve often mentioned how parenting is about patience. Parenting is also about letting go, and letting children take chances, some of which can result in injury. Are we responsible, as parents, to try to mitigate risk where possible? Absolutely. In fact I have 100 square yards of bubble wrap on order. But I wonder if it’s also unfeasible to eliminate all risk from the lives of our children. And, if we did eliminate all of the risk, how would they learn how to cope with it?
This question has reared itself in front of me today. Our youngest plays goalie for his soccer team, and was participating in a goalie clinic with a friend of his from the team, who is also a goalie on the team. I guess that could be assumed.
I was about to meet with someone for coffee and to talk education and the role of parents when I received a call from the coach. Ethan was hurt.
Twenty minutes later as I walked onto the field to find my son, I saw the coach sitting next to him, and my son looking quite stoic, his arm resting on a jersey, and a piece of cardboard, a distinct turn in his forearm just below his wrist where the arm should have been straight. Oh boy. This was worse than I thought.
I came to find out from piecing together stories from the coach, the dad of the our son’s friend, and our son, that the boys were playing so well the coaches had them play up against 16 year-olds. I knew this was happening on Monday of this week, but trusted the coach in thinking they were up to the challenge. In a 2 v 2 drill a girl with a particularly strong leg — who the goalie coach had instructed to not shoot from within 20+ yards — blasted a shot at net. Our youngest snapped his right hand out to block the ball, the force of which snapped the two bones at the tip of his forearm.
Later I questioned the coach about the prudence of having 11 year-olds step in as keepers against 16 year-olds, but really I was questioning myself, whether I had done enough to protect my son.
Whether it’s rationalization or not, I still think it was the right decision to allow him to play up. We cannot wrap our children in bubble wrap and I have no problem sending him onto a soccer pitch where some of the players he has faced actually are attempting to do him harm in the heat of the game, as compared to a skillful young woman with an insanely strong leg trying to simply get the ball past the keeper.
What happened was a freak accident, which we cannot prevent from happening to our kids, and best yet, he’s already smiling again. He’s quite sad that he’s going to miss his first sleep-over camp, and that he’s going to miss the remainder of this soccer season, but he’s already talking about getting back on the pitch, getting back in goal, and what he can do next time to stop a ball struck by that girl, and not get hurt.
Don’t know about you, but I think that speaks volumes about kids being able to handle much more than we think they can. I guess I can cancel that bubble wrap order.