Take A Knee

I sat watching from behind the glass. Nose-bleed seats, for sure. They are all nose-bleed seats, though. In one hour increments parents race toward the glass to grab the “best” seats, so to catch a glimpse of their kids kick a ball to a teammate or better yet,  into the goal of the opposing team. They are all bad seats–no matter where you sit the kids look about the size of ants.

On that day, we had gotten the “prime” seats. All the way to the left and up against the glass. I sat inside the indoor soccer facility, my coat zipped up to my chin. Indoor doesn’t mean that it’s warm–a lesson learned last year during our first indoor soccer season. I was surrounded by parents, grandparents, and siblings of other players who were there to watch their beloved elementary students kick a ball. This is what we do on Saturdays–this is our gathering place.

I watch the teams play, paying special attention to #2 and #3. Charlie and Chanelle play on the same team. I watch as Charlie scores a goal, assisted by Chanelle. Chad and I jokingly wonder why they didn’t hug each other after the goal. We both know that a public hug will happen the same day pigs fly.

We see it happen at the same time, Chad and I. A ball hits her hand and we watch her grab it. We are too far away to see her face, but we both know it. We watch as she cradles her arm between plays. We see that she’s holding it close to her body, while continuing to chase after the ball. She’s hurting, we comment to each other. Another parent echos, she’s hurt. I look between Chanelle and the coach. I wonder if he sees what I’m seeing.

I’m not sure what to do.


I sit in a doctors office for the first time in years. I explain to him the pain I’ve been experiencing. The pain that has sidelined me from running for three months.

How long have you been experiencing this? he asked me.
I pause and calculate in my head, It’s been about 12 years, I tell him.

He doesn’t have to say it, I already know. I should have taken care of this long ago.

The pain that had been tolerable for the last 12 years had now gotten so bad, every step brings pain.


I watch from above the field as she continues to chase the ball around the field. I watch as she releases her arm and continues to play. I feel a sense of pride, watching my girl shake it off, as Taylor Swift and almost every parent I know would say. Shake it off, shake, shake, it off.

I watch her closely. Despite the spring that seems to have been lost in her step, all seemed well.

My girl is tough, I thought proudly, pridefully. She’s strong.


I sat at on a table while the doctor worked on my injured leg. He makes small talk about the weather, the sunlight, the warmth.

It’s a great day for a run, he commented and followed it up with, but we won’t talk about that.
I let my head fall in shame knowing that I put myself here. Yeah, I responded. I guess I just thought it would get better.
You should have been here months ago, 
he told me.

I know, I think to myself.


We wait for them to emerge after their short team meeting. The hallway quickly fills with white shirts and we wait for our #2 and #3. When they approach we offer condolences (for their loss) and congrats (on a game well played) and then bend down toward #2 and ask about her hand.

In a moment, the fierce face that almost never complains and rarely sheds a tear, breaks. Tears roll down her cheeks as she tries to hide herself from the crowd, it really hurts, she says. She breaks in front of us, in the safety of our presence she released all that she had been holding in during the second half of the game.

Chad didn’t waste a second, Chanelle, he said, when that happens you have to take a knee. When you are hurt you need to let your coach know. When you’re hurt, take a knee. Chanelle nodded her head, but I’m not sure she was listening. Her only thought, I’m guessing, was that we get her out of that cold building into the safety of the car.

We ushered her to the car. We did the tests, can you make a fist? Move it up and down?  Side to side? We assess before driving home stopping at a drugstore to to purchase ice packs and brace for her injured wrist.


When we return home and things settle down I ask her again, why didn’t you tell {your coach}?
She doesn’t have an answer, I don’t know, she replies.


Why didn’t you come in sooner? the doctor asks me.
I don’t know, I reply.


Chad and I talked about it later. Where is the balance between taking care of your kids and allowing them to do it for themselves?
Should we have run out and pulled her off the field and checked her wrist? Accusation: Helicopter Parent.
Should she have told her coach? Accusation: Weak Athelete
Should we have pulled her off the field? Accusation: Over-Protective.


I don’t have any answers. I don’t know where the line lies between protecting them and letting them protect themselves. If I’m being honest, I am still proud of her for playing through her pain. But then, I ran through pain for years only to find myself sitting on the sideline, staring longingly at the roads that used to feel like home.

Parenting so often feels like an experiment. Trial and Error. Error, error, error and maybe a success thrown in here and there.

Sometimes, it is best to shake it off Sometimes the feeling, the pain, the experience will pass.  Certainly that is true.
But other times, it doesn’t go away. We need to admit that it hurts, there is pain, it is not passing, we need help.

We need to take a knee.

I’m still trying to learn this.

I hope I can teach them at the same time.

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