By Wyatt Earp | April 27, 2009
* Since Julia arrived, I had to clarify the redhead status. Both Kyle (8) and Julia (4 mos) are redheads. My bad.
So, after last week’s lacrosse game, Kyle said his feet really hurt. The missus checked his cleats and they looked fine. Besides, they are not even a year old. She then looked at the size, and it said 13.
Kyle is currently wearing a 1 1/2 shoe. Dang.
So, I took the boy to Dick’s Sporting Goods to get him some new soccer/lacrosse cleats. He found a pair he really liked. They fit well, but more importantly: they “looked cool.” Sold! To be on the safe side, I bought him a size 2, so we didn’t have the same problem in a few months.
Kyle wore the cleats to his next soccer practice and came home worse than before. Apparently, the cleats were a little big – even though he said they were okay and his toe was near the end – and they weren’t broken in. The raised heel part of the shoe dug into his ankle, causing a blister and a small cut. Dammit.
On Saturday, I took Kyle to lacrosse practice, and chalked up the blister to the new shoes. We bandaged his ankle, and wrapped it up to make it more comfortable. After an hour at practice, he said his foot hurt. I asked him if he wanted to leave the practice, and he said no.
Now, I’m no sadist. I certainly don’t want my son to be in pain, but I was sure that the pain was due to the original blister. I would try and fix him up better before his soccer game on Sunday. When he was wearing his regular sneakers – also new, by the way – he was fine. I could only go with what he told me.
So, Sunday comes along, and we get to the soccer game. The game was at noon, and by then the temperature was approaching 90 degrees. He was already miserable, and came to me before the game and said he had a little pain in the ankle again. The shoe was rubbing the blister. I told him that it was okay to sit out the game because he was hurt, and he looked at me like I had three heads. “No way, Dad. I’m playing!”
During the game, I was assigned to the sideline flag. I waved the flag when the ball went out-of-bounds. I’d rather focus my energy on cheering on the boy, but this was okay. Immediately, I see Kyle limping onto the field at his first shift. I told his coach about the injury beforehand, and he said he would limit his time. He didn’t start Kyle, for which I was thankful.
Now, Kyle goes full bore in practice and games. He has played through pain before, and I know he didn’t want to let the team down. I talk to him about responsibility, and apparently he listens to me. Who knew? When the whistle blew, he took off like a shot. No sign of the pain.
Unfortunately, his team showed no signs of hustle, either. It might have been the heat, or it might have been laziness, but Kyle’s team did not look like the world beaters they sometimes are. At the half, they were down 2-1. I talked to Kyle at halftime, and he said his foot hurt a little, but he wasn’t sitting. No way.
The second half starts and he is sitting on the bench. Thank God. When he gets onto the field for his first shift, he hustles fairly well. A few minutes into the shift, the ball comes to me at the sideline. Kyle hustles after it, and when the whistle blows, he looks at me and says, “Dad, I can’t do it anymore. I have to come out.” He’s devastated, and I feel like the worst father on Earth for letting it get to this point.
I tell Kyle to go to Coach Dave and tell him that he needs to come out during the next substitution. Unlike hockey, soccer players can only come out of the game at certain times. Kyle hobbles over, tells the coach, and stands there.
The game is still going on.
I want to yell, “Kyle, you have to keep playing until the ref allows the sub!” but what good would that do. Then, in a stroke of genius, Kyle’s coach says, “Sit down on the field.” Kyle does, and his coach yells to the ref, “We have a player down.” This stops the play and gets the substitution Kyle desperately needs. It’s a legitimate call, because Kyle is really hurt, and he comes off the field.
Kyle’s team went on to lose the game by a score of 2-1, and when I got to Kyle after the game, his show was off and he was hopping on one foot over to me. I wanted to cry. This was my fault, and I should have kept him of the field. But that damned “responsibility” crap got the better of me, and I made a mistake.
We were walking to the car with his snack and Powerade, and I told him we were going back to Dick’s to get him different cleats. At least until he was truly a size 2. While we were looking for something he liked, he turned to me and started crying. I hugged him and asked, “What’s wrong?” and he said that he felt bad for coming out of the game and letting the team down.
What do you say to that?
The only thing I could come up with was, “Kyle, you didn’t let your team down. You played half a soccer game running back and forth on an injured foot. When I asked you if you wanted to sit out the game, you said no. If anything, your team and your coaches were probably proud of your effort, and effort means more than results.”
Amazingly, that worked. When we came home, the missus cleaned up the blister and the cut, and had him take a long bath. Hopefully, he’ll be back to 100% by Thursday’s soccer practice. I know he will demand to be there.
I love that boy.