By Kent McDill
Both of my boys, Dan and Kyle, suffered sports-related injuries in May. It was a bad month for me.
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Actually, both boys handled their injury situations fairly well, all things considered. I didn't.
Because both of my boys got hurt, my entertainment for the month of May disappeared. My main source of enjoyment comes from watching my kids participate in sports-related activities, and because of the injuries, there weren't any of those to watch.
Dan, who is now 17 and heading into his senior year in high school, got hurt first. He was at soccer practice, and that was a big deal for him, because he had just decided to go back to playing soccer after three years as a distance runner.
A leg injury made it difficult for him to progress as he wanted in cross country and track, and he missed soccer so much. I was excited for him to get back at it.
So what does he do? In practice, he breaks his arm trying to stop a hard shot from a teammate without his goalie gloves on. The shot snapped his arm back and created a small break in his forearm. He was out of action for a month.
"But I saved the goal, Dad," he said. Yeah, and it was an important goal to stop, I'm sure. In practice.
Kyle, who just graduated from middle school, was in a soccer game, one of the few I did not attend. I was covering the Chicago Bulls playoff game and Mom was there to cheer him on.
In the final two minutes of the game, Kyle jumped up for a ball and came down on a teammate's foot, rolling his ankle. Eventually, we found out he had a high ankle sprain, and was out of action for several weeks.
Just as I did for Dan, I felt bad for Kyle. His team was playing in the State Cup tournament and two others in May, and he could not participate.
But it was worse for me, because suddenly, I had nothing to do to take my mind off the things I really need to take my mind off of.
I don't live vicariously through my children's athletic endeavors, but they really are my one source of entertainment. I don't have time for my own athletic endeavors. I read for fun only when I'm eating alone. And I only listen to music in the car. I am really only entertained by watching my kids doing fun stuff.
With their injuries, there was care and handling issues to deal with. Dan broke his right arm, and is fully right-handed, and was completely helpless when it came to opening things and closing things and pretty much anything involving hands.
Kyle had to be in a walking boot to repair his injury, and it was heavy and cumbersome and required a lot of Velcro-ing. I also had to make sure he kept his wraparound ice pack on his ankle so that it would heal.
Somewhere along the line, though, I realized I was suffering from parental withdrawal. I was anxious and distracted and confused. And it was because that part of my regular life was temporarily postponed.
Then it hit me: Kyle enters high school in the fall, which means he is only four years away from leaving the house for college. Dan and his twin sister, Lindsey, who entertains me primarily with her distance running now, are one academic year from leaving home.
I'm four short years away from having nothing to do with myself but stalk the kids' Facebook pages and wait for "payment due" notification emails from various institutes of higher learning to ruin my day.
I'm in trouble here! I have no earthly idea what is going to replace kid-watching on my weekly routine. I may have to take up origami, and I really don't want to take up origami.
As we all know, time speeds along faster and faster with every day that goes by. But I need to put the brakes on hard, right now. I am not ready for an empty nest.
And I need the kids to stay healthy for as long as I have them around.
• Kent McDill is a freelance writer. He and his wife, Janice, have four children, Haley, Dan, Lindsey and Kyle.