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A contact sport

My daughter is a gymnast. She started young but gave it up for a few years. Then 2 years ago she got back into it with a vengeance…determined to make up for lots of lost time. From not being able to do a cartwheel to nailing double back hand springs. It’s been an amazing transformation.

She’s not a natural by any means. She’s gotten where she is by sheer will…..out-working just about everybody else. Her drive is inspiring. She’ll do something over and over and over and over until she gets it right. Then she’ll do it over and over and over again until getting it wrong is no longer an option. And then she’ll actually go to the gym. Her main work is done in our basement and in our backyard. We spent the weekend in Allentown so the hotel hallway became a place to practice her floor routine. I’ll walk into a room and frequently see her upside down, against the wall, trying to stay vertical. Her walking around the house has mostly turned to a series of ballet-like leaps. Anytime she encounters anything on the ground about 3 inches wide she treats it like a balance beam. Curbs. Cracks in the sidewalk. Ask her to stand still for a few seconds and invariably she limbers up but putting one leg above her head. She’s not even aware she does it anymore.

Of course gymnastics is a contact sport. In the space of 6 months she’s broken a toe and both ankles. The latest mishap happened last night. Landed wrong off the beam. Ankle rolled. She heard a pop. Others heard a pop too. By the time I got there she had what looked like a golf ball sticking out of the side of her foot. She was crying not from the pain (which I know was considerable), but because she knew this weekend’s scheduled competition would go on without her. She adores competing. Craves it. Wins some and loses some and always handles herself gracefully. But the rides home are more enjoyable when she wins. It’s validation for her that all the work she’s done has paid off. If she doesn’t win, she doesn’t think she worked hard enough. So she works harder.

And now she can’t work at all. She’s hobbling around on crutches mumbling to herself about the 4 weeks the doctor said she’d be out of commission….already planning her return much sooner. We’ll need to convince her the doctor knows best. It ain’t gonna be easy.

Nothing hurts more than your kid hurting. Today has been a lot of hurry up and waiting in various offices. Wheel Chairs and walking boots and filling out forms and digging for insurance cards and me trying to carry her to the bathroom. I used to be stronger. She used to be tiny. She’s 12 now and solid muscle. A few more fireman carries and she’s gonna have to fight her old man for those crutches. But still, I’ll carry her forever if I have to. If I can’t walk she can ride on my back.

The tears are still there. Not as constant, but I hear them. After getting X-ray’s today I took her to get ice cream. I’m not even sure she asked. It’s automatic. When a kid has to go through something like this, ice cream is automatically added to the menu. It helped some. It always does.

She’s napping now. Worn out. In my bed. I just went in and covered her with a blanket. Her iPhone was on her chest. She was watching gymnastic videos on YouTube. Now I’m the one crying.

It’s amazing how much you love them. I’m looking at the X-ray now. Doctor pointed out the break. It looks like a ghastly little smile on the film. Clean.

I wish it was my X-ray instead. Normal Daddy stuff this is. And really minor when you think about it. But when it’s your kid perspective is lost. It sure seems major to me as I watch her sleep with her cast propped up on 2 pillows. Still wearing her jacket….worn out and out cold.

The day is almost over now. It’s been a long one.  I’m thinking of all those parents who take care of children with way more serious issues than a broken ankle. And I wonder how they do it. It’s heroic is what it is. Tip your hat. Raise your glass. Whatever it is you do. But when a child hurts, you find stuff you never knew you had.

I hope I never have to be that strong. But I hope I am. For her sake.

In a bit…

-tf

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. jimbob
    April 30, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Get well soon kid!

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