Man Down

santiLast week Saint James got dropped off from soccer camp and surprised the living daylights out of me by basically crumpling in the front door, clutching his ankle. Shit. The tears he had been saving up, rolled down his flushed cheeks as he growled the story to me. Basically: a big uncoordinated kid took him down. Bad. Within fifteen minutes we were on our way to the ortho urgent care, visions of a permanently bum ankle swimming in my head.

I’d like to say I had this puppy in perspective from the get go. It’s just an ankle – a swollen, bruised, gnarly looking ankle, but merely an appendage nevertheless. Lately, it seems there’s no end to the grapevine of heartbreaking stories and I knew better than to get overly upset over an ankle. It wasn’t his head. It wasn’t his kidney. I wasn’t the cells in his blood. It would be fine.

But to say that I had perspective, is not to say that I was happy about it.  As someone with a pretty shitty knee injury from her youth, I know what a thing like this can do to a sporty young head. And it’s the middle of soccer season. And most importantly of all, it’s SUMMER. A summer for which we waited a long time, and put up with a lot of snow and rain and gray. A summer that played big time hard to get. A summer that is finally, FINALLY giving us a little love. My heart squeezed when I thought about the games and bike adventures and boy wanderings he’d be missing out on. Shit. Shit. Shit.

Who knew, then, that a severe sprain and a possible fracture, crutches and two weeks in a boot would yield a silver lining? I would have expected this last week to be nothing but complaining and angst, but it has actually been quite nice. Turns out, taking one kid out of the rotation during the busiest time of the year makes a big difference. Things get a little quieter, a little easier and lo and behold, there have been more than a few times I find our entire family in the backyard, just lounging and talking, gathered around the boot like it’s a warm fire, a  powerful relic.

The injury made us slow down to keep pace with our guy on crutches and I’ve been touched to see how willing everyone was to do it. Of course, I’m going to dote and hover and cluck – I’m the mama. But I didn’t particularly expect the girls to dote and hover and cluck. They’ve been flying around the house, fetching him icepacks and drinks and pillows like little Florence Nightingales. Every time Saint James scoots down the stairs on his bottom, Devil Baby is there to carry his crutches. She holds them in perfect position for him to hop right into. They hang out with him in the basement, play couch catch, watch TV.

And the moody, monosyllabic big bruthuh is being nicer too. Whether it’s from a place of gratitude, humility or necessity, he’s being kinder to his sisters. He’s stuck and bored enough to engage with them – really talk and hang out. This could be temporary – who am I kidding, it’s totally temporary – but I’ll take it.

Normally, at this time in the summer I’d already be burnt out from the driving – fried to a crispy nugget from the schedules. But oddly, I feel really peaceful right now. I feel like I have a handle on things and we are really plugged into each other for a blink. The girls are still doing their things, but St. James is simply healing his ankle. Letting the alchemy of youth, time and magic knit all those little fibers back together.

On Wednesday we go back to the doctor to find out if he’s out of the boot and free to play or out for another 6-8 weeks because of a fracture. I know I’ve liked this little respite. I know I found a so-called silver lining, but let’s not be ridiculous. Let’s not mince words.

If St. James is out for the rest of the summer I will lose. my. shit.

Or maybe not. Fingers and ankles crossed.

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