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08 August 2010

Boulevard of a Broken Hand

There are certain moments that only a parent can appreciate.
The first step.
The first day of school.
The first time your child talks back to you.
There are other moments that only a parent can enjoy.
Like being on a packed airplane and watching the panic that mom and dad go through trying to quiet a screaming child.
As someone who has been there, done that, I hate to say it, but I love watching other parents scramble to diffuse that situation.
And they try everything.
Apple juice.
Cheerios.
Grey Goose.
Whatever it takes.
But the entire time, the show you get watching the crumbling parents is better than any $8 movie on the plane.
There are about 37 million moments I would like to have back in my 13+ years of being a parent.
I wish I was more attentive.
I wish I was more loving.
But most of all I wish I was most patient.
I still do.
A few days ago I was at my 11-year old son’s football practice.
It was being held at a GIANT complex, where at least ten other teams were practicing at the same time.
During the practice, I took a stroll around the track to burn off some steam (and calories).
At one point, I noticed a man talking to a boy who was in full football gear and had been pulled aside from his team.
The boy couldn’t have been more than seven years old.
The man was right in his grill, holding the boy by his face mask, which should’ve been a penalty.
As I got closer, I couldn’t help but hear the conversation.
Actually, it wasn’t much of a conversation, it was a one-way street.
It went something like:
MAN-F*&^ F&*# F*#& F(#*
BOY-
If grabbing the face mask was a penalty, this should’ve been an ejection.
I have no idea if this was his son, not that it really mattered, but the first thing that came to my mind was...
...OMG, is that what I look like when I lose my temper?   
Is that what I sound like when I lose my temper? 
Whether it was shock or a short attention span, I kept walking around the track.
By the time I came back around, they were gone. 
You may find this hard to believe, but I have never won the Father of the Year Award.
I’ve had plenty of moments where I could’ve been nominated and plenty of moments where I should’ve been disqualified.
I’m proud to say in the last year I have done the best job I’ve ever done as a dad.
But perfect, I am not.
And probably never will be.
My son is back to playing tackle football this year after taking a year off.
And let me tell you, if you think this Bernie Madoff was a ripoff, you should check out all the gear you need to buy for an 11-year old tackle football team.
Chin straps, practice pants, heat gear, shoulder pads...
With all the money we spent, we could’ve rented a hotel room at DisneyWorld for half a night. 
I’ve been to all four of his practices this year, including the most recent one on Saturday morning.
The kids who have played for several years definitely have a clear advantage.
They are the ones yelling and screaming and believing that somehow the two hours between 8 and 10 AM are going to lead to the Super Bowl.
Nothing wrong with believing.
My son is still trying to find his way, but after each practice we have done a breakdown of what’s good and what he needs to work on.
The good news is he has showed signs of getting better each time.
The bad news is he needs a forest fire lit under his $40 practice pants for it to happen.
I have tried all of the cliches to keep him motivated.
Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.
And when it doesn’t work, there are two very frustrated people.
He and me.
When we got home after practice on Saturday, we tried a different approach.
This time my wife spoke to him about finding that extra gear.  
Figuring out a way to be your best.
Even if you are last in the sprints, run all the way.
Don’t let anything get in the way of giving 100%.
The conversation went on for about 20 minutes.
It was painful.  For all of us.
But little did we know, it was most painful for him.
When the conversation ended, he showed us the palm of his left hand.
Between the black and blue color and the extreme swelling, there was no doubt that x-rays were needed.
Two hours later, he came home with hard splint.
The cast goes on Monday.
He’s out for the season.
At some point during the morning practice, he had fractured the first metacarpal and never said a word about it.
Not one word.
Not one word on the field.  
Not one word in the car going home.  
Not one word while being told for 20 minutes that he needs to try harder.
Now who feels bad?

2 comments:

Renee said...

If he needs some hand therapist supervision, you know who to call. Happy to help.

Dd Overseas said...

Thanks for sharing your story. i really appreciate for your time and effort on writing such a quality article.
regards, Ddoverseas