My eldest plays competitive soccer; she is passionate about the game. Soccer is definitely a contact sport so the use of protective equipment is essential. Shin guards, strapped on under heavy socks, provide protection from unwanted cleat designs being permanently imprinted on legs and nasty bruising. Unfortunately, shin guards tend to harbour some equally nasty bacteria when they get sweaty and because of the number of times a week they’re used, they don’t always get cleaned in a timely manner.
When my daughter started getting a rash on her shins, I (correctly) assumed it was from the shinguards. But because I’m a shiftless, neglectful parent who spends more tme writing her blog than inspecting her daughter’s shins, I somehow missed that the rash had gone from bad to worse to something that resembled The Black Death or the Pox from medieval days. My daughter came home from practice night before last with an edict from her coach: Seek Medical Attention for Your Daughter ASAP.
The coach’s word is law around here so we took ourselves to our favourite clinic yesterday morning. The doctor on call, a petite woman about my age, sat us down and asked what the issue was. I removed the bandages from my daughter’s ankles. I looked up and there it was.
This stern bespectacled doc was giving me the face that said: You are an irresponsible neglectful parent of the highest order. Your daughter has been suffering for months and this is the first time you’ve sought medical attention – now that there are bleeding, oozing, weeping, open sores on her legs. You should be hung from the highest tree with a placard hung around your worthless neck saying “TRULY AWFUL MOMMY”
That’s what her face said. What her mouth said (to my 13 yr old) was: “This is bad. This is very, very bad. This could be the end of your soccer career.” The doctor wouldn’t even look at me and in fact, did not address me the rest of the visit. Clearly, this poor child in front of her would have to fend for herself as best she could because the incompetent old bag who claimed to be her mother wasn’t capable of understanding or following basic instructions.
My daughter is a tough one Very resilient. Very common sense. Very “Ok, what’s next?” She took the doctor’s prescription sheet, hopped off the table and said, “Hey Mom, can we go to Starbucks now?” My stomach was somewhere near my feet; it was all I could do to drag myself off the chair and follow her out the door of the clinic, my Mommy tail between my legs. I tearily apologized to my girl for the next 6 blocks as we walked to Starbucks. If she had asked me to throw myself under the 502 streetcar at that moment, I would have. I begged her forgiveness until she said, “Mom, if you don’t shut up, I’m gonna hurt you. Everything will be fine. God, I’m hungry – can I get a bagel too?”
God bless her, nothing gets her down. I realized in the doctor’s office that I am not resilient, not fearless, and apparently not competent. I wanted to run to my son’s school and inspect him for what might be wrong with him that I hadn’t noticed.
On the subway ride home, I played future interviews in my head. They went something like this:
“So, Daugher-of-WeeBanshee, there you were, a promising pro soccer career in your future – and then in the doctor’s office, you watched it all slip away. How did that make you feel?”
“Well, I wanted to throw my Mom under the 502 streetcar but I thought I’d get her to buy me a caramel frappucino first…”
“Good decision. So now that your soccer career is over before it began due to some pretty poor parenting, what lies in store for you?”
“Well, I’m still in therapy dealing with the stunning, heart-wrenching loss of my greatest love: playing soccer. I guess I’ll just lie around drinking high-calorie coffee beverages and settle down to a life of mediocrity…thanks to my mother.”
After sleeping in a hair shirt last night, I awoke this morning with a clearer head…sort of. I reckon I’m like every other parent out there: harried, hurried, exhausted and doing the best I can. I’m not a lax parent – ask my kids – I’m the Mean One (my husband is the Fun One). I nag and question and don’t inspect them for oozing rashes enough…My daughter will heal; she and I will make damn sure of that as will her Dad and coach. Before she drifted off to sleep last night, she patted my head. ” ‘S ok Mama. I’ll be fine.”
Yes she will but it’s gonna take her Mama some time to forget Judgment Face.