I waited to blog about this until the boy was home and safe. My 16 year old son, who likes to surf, skate, ride dirt bikes, and jump off cliffs or rocks into deep pools of water, gives me a lot of grey hairs.
So, when he was packing up to go to his friend’s house on Monday afternoon because Tuesday was a holiday, I couldn’t help but notice the odd assortment of gear he was taking. Skateboard, check. Backpack, check. Helmet, huh?
Why are you taking your motorcycle helmet and not your skateboard helmet?
It provides better protection.
Next, he grabs his protective gear (gloves, pants) for dirt biking.
Where and what are you skateboarding?
We’re into bombing hills these days.
There are many times I have to remind myself to let things go. To be happy that my son, who had many difficulties in elementary school with motivation and self-discipline, now has a 3.7 GPA. That I have not had to check that he did his work since 7th grade. I should be happy that he has taken extra classes and is ahead on his credits. That he does a lot of chores around the house.
Still, there are only so many ways to survive your heat skipping a beat and your stomach doing a triple backwards flip.
Every once in awhile I think, why oh why after nine years of baseball, soccer, basketball, and football; after hours of driving to practices and hanging out in parks and potlucks – after all the time and energy, where was that corner he slipped around when I wasn’t looking and decided extreme individual sports was his thing??
One day, while I was fighting anxiety while I watched him body surf waves that would keep me from even a quick dippity do da, I heard a voice. At first it was faint. I tried to ignore it. With each crashing wave it got a little louder. Ah. There it was again. My father’s voice. Suddenly, a full blown flashback in Technicolor and surround-sound invaded my consciousness.
I’m 16 years old and lying in the back seat of our family car. My foot is elevated on the front seat and it’s swollen at least three times its normal size. My dad is driving me to the emergency room because while riding my horse in the arena, my horse slipped in the mud and fell in one swoop on his side. It happened so fast I wasn’t able to bail and my foot got caught in the stirrup. When my horse fell, the stirrup twisted with my foot inside, smashing it against the ground with the full weight of my horse on top, breaking three of my metatarsal bones.
The tricky thing was, I was told…no actually, it was more like forbidden, to ride that day. It had been raining for several days straight, the arena was muddy and my dad told me that although the sun had been out for a few hours, it was still too wet and slippery. I could go up and groom my horse, but no riding.
So the whole way to the hospital he yelled at me. Something like,
You god damned hard head. What the hell is the matter with you? If I had a nickel for every minute I had to spend in an emergency room with you, I’d be a rich man.
He also swatted at me and the side of my head at stoplights on the way to the hospital.
Those other trips he was referring to include:
Getting a nail slammed into the bottom of my foot when my best friend and I , at eleven, jumped off her barn roof holding sheets like parachutes and landed in her dad’s strawberry fields. The winds were whipping it up that day and it was actually kind of working, I mean we never broke any bones. Just bad luck that a board with a nail was under the plants.
Running barefoot down the pier and slicing the pad of my foot on another nail that was sticking half way up.
When my girlfriend in high school who had a jeep and used to always take us four wheeling rolled her jeep down a hill – about 15 times.
These are times I was hurt and do not include the rock and tree climbing I did when we lived at the beach.
The apple has fallen. Kerplunk. Karma’s a bitch. And my dad is up there, laughing his ass off at me. And hopefully keeping an eye on his grandson.