Injured (playing with the kids)

226“So, how did you injure your shoulder?” the physio asked, eyeing my back, perhaps looking for clues.

“Playing tennis last August. I don’t play often.”

The bright light of that summer morning in St Andrew’s reappeared. No.1 son and I hitting balls back and forth. I was careful to direct the ball back to him, to keep the rally going. But soon, he was dinking little drop shots that, however hard I dashed and far I stretched, I just couldn’t reach. I was goaded, you see. My response was to up the tempo with some booming serves. That put an end to the cheeky drop shots and, three months on, had me seeking the attention of a physio.

“Just tennis? You did nothing else to it?” The physio began digging her thumb in amongst the tendons and joints of my upper back.

“Eh, yeah. No. Oww.”

“It won’t hurt for long,” she reassured me, with talon poised for another incision.

Rising to the challenge of a contest with a child is a common fault of adult men – and one that keeps the physiotherapy profession busy. I like to think we are infected by the carefree spirit of the child, and forget the limitation of our bodies. Less generously, we’re showing off. Dave, the ‘funny falling down man,’ as my kids know him, was guilty of this.

Dave visits us from the States while on business. He comes equipped and attired for meetings and strategizing: pure wool suit, Italian shoes and man bag.

On a wet day five years ago, he joined us on a trip out to burn off the kids’ surplus energy. While I kicked balls and played chase with the kids, Dave watched, apologising for the unsuitability of his clothing. Eventually, I declared there was time for just one more race. As we lined up, Dave appeared amongst the racers. On the G of ‘Go’ he hurtled forward. Closing in on the finishing line, he tried to ease up, but his leather soled shoes found no traction on the wet ground. He skidded, tripped and flipped head over heels, landing four or five meters past the finishing line on his shoulder. The kids howled with laughter. Dave struggled to his feet, clasping his shoulder.

At home, we sponged the mud and grass stains from Dave’s suit and dosed him up on pain-killers. Over night his shoulder seized up and I had to help dress him before he left for work. He struggled through his week of meetings. It took a course of intensive physiotherapy in the States for mobility to be restored. Even now, he claims there is a lump on his shoulder – a reminder of the dangers of competing with kids.

My physio had asked me: “Just tennis? You did nothing else to it?”

“Eh, yeah. No. Oww.”

And another image of that week in St Andrews flashed into my mind. Not the tennis court on a bright morning, but a patch of grass by the East Sands. The 1&onlyD and I waiting for Mother in the Middle. The 1&onlyD performing handstands and then turning cartwheels. I was asked to award marks for precision and flourish.

“Nine… Nine… Ten!”

“Go on, Daddy. Your go.”

“Five… Six… Six. Now try a round-off [cartwheel with a two-footed landing].”

“Four.. five”


Just the tennis, then. Not showing-off or being over-competitive – that would be dangerous for a man of my age.


2 March 2015 – edited and revised.



Filed under injury, play time

23 responses to “Injured (playing with the kids)

  1. sarahmo3w

    Whoops! This is so typical! So many men can’t resist being competitive with the kids and forget their bodies aren’t in quite the same shape they once were. My husband is the same. Even my dad is the same and he’s 70!

  2. hehehe This made me chuckle…
    I hope your shoulder is feeling better now x

  3. My kids’ street dance class actively encourages the parents to have a go. I always think this is most unwise (doesn’t stop me trying out the breakdancing moves tho).

    • In a similar vein, my daughter said she wished her gymnastics club had ‘bring your Dad day’. I then heard from a gym club that do that. Good luck with the street dance and thanks for commenting.

  4. My husband would every so often walk up the stairs while mumbling ouch in every step =P

    This is him after playing with our 4-1/2 year old son. I find it funny that my son if gentle with me but is really rough on him! They do rough play always and I am just so glad that its him to get to play that part =)


    • Merlinda, by the time your son is a teen, your husband may need you to move to a bungalow. Many more injuries to come, I predict. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  5. i know it shouldn’t but this made me laugh. I think weve all had an injury from the two points you suggested due to being a Dad or Parent. Sometimes though situations just call for us to step up and do these things…..downside we’re adults and not children anymore! Don’t think that’ll still stop me in the future from getting parent related injuries 🙂
    Great post and thanks for linking up with the #bigfatlinky

  6. This is so true!! Grace and Ross play fight on a regular basis and, on a regular basis, Ross gets hurt!! What a great post. Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo.

  7. Haha brilliant! I feel your pain and know that one day I will be in some kind of similar position. Thanks so much for linking up 🙂

  8. Oops a daisy! Still at least you can cartwheel!

  9. Haha I love this! We used to be so ruthless with our dad when we were little. Three kids used to “PILE ON” poor dad in a heap on the floor. I actually used to play wrestling with my son (I was ‘Big Mummy’ of course) and for his tiny size, my son was very strong. Hope your injuries recover swiftly! x

  10. Jenny Evans

    I second Laura on the cartwheel. I tried to do one of those with the kids last summer in an attempt to be whimsical and it didn’t end well.

  11. Ha ha! That’s the problem with having kids I guess – they allow us to re-live our childhoods and even though we haven’t done a cartwheel for years and years, it feels like just yesterday – cue, frozen shoulder 🙂 Thanks for linking up to this week’s #thetruthabout

  12. Haha. Enjoyed it. As our athletic ability erodes our competitive nature does not. I can’t resist the temptation either. Maybe we’ll learn one day…maybe.

  13. Poor dads… This reminded of five-a-side footie when I was about 14. I managed to break a grown man’s ankle with an aggressive (I was 14, 5’0 – still am and weighed about 7.5 stone) tackle. The guy was someone’s uncle, and I felt terrible. I have no idea if he was being competitive, but either way, he should have known better than to be playing football with tiny 14-year old school girls! d;


  14. Pingback: Going through the motions | Touchline Dad & Mother in the Middle

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