We parents often make parenting much more difficult than it needs to be. The recent press on the easily articulated Calm the Fudge* Down (yes a different word other than Fudge is used), is a great reminder that we do need to calm the F down. Even when presented with more challenging situations that matter more than mere grades in elementary school.
A while back our youngest broke his arm. Only four days later our oldest – about to go into eighth grade – was playing in a lacrosse game when an opposing player hit him. Another player hit him. Our son didn’t fall to the ground, which is what I suspect the first opposing player was expecting him to do, so the first player took a half step back, held his stick with his hands shoulder-width apart, and rammed out son as hard as he could…in the facemask of our son’s helmet.
Still our son did not fall, but everything about him at that moment changed. The referee threw a flag, the player received a 2 minute penalty for cross-checking, and one of our son’s coaches immediately yelled for our son to come off the field.
My youngest son thinks that the coach, a former marine, is like Larry the Lobster from Sponge Bob. Physically enormous, totally tough, but totally out to make sure everyone has a good time and stays safe.
The coaches were still coaching, but at least had our son sit down on the sidelines.
I watched him for a few minutes. I did not want to be that worry-wort parent, immediately running over to my son’s aid at the slightest threat of injury, but there was something about that hit.
Our son sat on the sidelines, and just did not look right. I waited for four minutes – which seemed like 15 – and then trotted over to speak with him.
When I got to his side he was breathing short , shallow, pained breaths. His head was killing him. His neck hurt. He was seeing stars. He was confused. While he won’t admit it, he was scared; he knew something wasn’t right, and everything hurt. He never lost consciousness on the field, but to this day, 24 days later, he still does not remember being hit.
I took him to the Emergency Room. We went through all of the practical tests and observations, and everything turned out just fine. Luckily.
The day after getting cleared for full-contact play, I said it was OK for him to ride his skateboard to a friend’s house. When he returned I asked him what I thought was a rhetorical question, “Were you wearing your helmet?”
He actually said, “No,” and I went ballistic. Absolutely ballistic: swearing and laying down the law about skateboards and helmets.
I’ve got to calm the F down, though. He’s being honest with me, and has been honest with me. He told me he wasn’t wearing a helmet when I had no idea if he was or wasn’t; he could have easily lied. He was honest during the entire concussion recovery process, even admitting when he woke in the morning with the tiniest of headaches. He could have easily lied in order to get on the playing field more quickly.
Yes, there are horror stories out there – even when it comes to the simple broken bones – but you have to ask yourself what risks are you willing to take, and willing to allow your child to take? And when you react, what are you reacting to: a true miscarriage of justice, or your own fear that you can never really keep your child totally safe? And isn’t parenting about teaching our children how to protect themselves, and how to deal with the hardships that come about when the inevitable scrape, bruise, or broken heart comes along? I’m learning, even after some of these recent bumps and bruises, that I’m willing, and ready, to let these boys take some greater risks, and have myself calm the F down.