I took the boys on Saturday to watch me and Lucas play ball with Chuy’s team, Los Cervezeros…and have a day out in the park. Meanwhile, the kids got a soccer game going; Jacob joined in, and took a bad slip and fall in the grass that dislocated his shoulder. Lucky for everyone, one of the guys on the team’s a wrestling coach, so he knew how to pop the shoulder back in place. Jacob was back up and in the game again after that, so it all ended ok…except for my having to tell Maya about it.
Pretty soon it was time to get the boys and my equipment together and drive home. My baseball pants were dry by then, but still plenty dirty from the game, so I dug out a towel and put that on the seat. I gave Lucas a big hug (we’re both vaccinated, so fuck you COVID), which he deserved, since, in the middle of all the drama with Jacob, Chuy told him that he had the job at 2nd for the summer. Lucas was thrilled: Los Cervezeros play real ball, he’d stay in practice, and, yeah, I could tell he thought it was cool that he was getting to play with grown men. I know Lucas’ success on the field isn’t entirely my doing, but I was pretty dang proud of my boy once again. When I first told Mom I was proud of Lucas, she told me that was the reward of being a teacher, watching a kid you taught succeed. I reckon she’s right (she should know, after all…she’s been a school librarian most of her life.)
The drive home was kinda quiet. I think we were all a little apprehensive of how Maya was gonna react. I told Jacob and Matteo that I’d do the talking, since it happened on my watch, but I did ask them to not say anything like ‘Jacob broke his shoulder.’ That would really set off a shit ton of drama in the Sharpman house.
Maya and Robert were home when we got there, which was good. I didn’t want to have to sit around and worry until I could tell them. They were in the family room being filmed together for a segment about what they were doing the first time the kids were out of the house in 16 months.
I came in, probably looking like shit in a sweaty tshirt and dirty baseball pants. I was hoping they’d turn off the cameras when I told Maya that I had something to tell her, but she let them keep running. We are a reality show, after all…and this was reality.
“How was the park?,” Maya asked as the camera turned to me.
“Um…great,” I said.
“Did you win?,” Robert asked.
“Yes,” I said, “5 to 3. I got the walk-off homer.”
“Congratulations. How did your pupil do…Lucas, right?”
“He played great. They gave him the spot on the team for the summer.”
“Something did happen, though,” I said. I had a camera in my face and totally forgot what I’d planned to say, so I just blurted it out: “Jacob had an accident playing soccer.”
Before I could get in “but he’s fine now,” Maya looked genuinely scared. Which made me totally nervous. She took the Lord’s Name in vain before she said, “what happened? Is he okay? Did you take him to the hospital? Is anything broken? Quick, Robert…go call the pediatrician.”
The one thing Maya didn’t do was tell the cameras to turn off.
“What happened?,” Robert asked. He looked calmer than Maya, but I could tell he was getting ready to freak out too.
“It’s ok,” I said, “he’s fine. Good as new. But he slipped and fell and dislocated his shoulder…”
“…but there was a guy on the baseball team who coaches wrestling and knows how to pop a shoulder back in again. It happens all the time to wrestlers. I could tell it hurt, but Jacob was plenty brave and we got it back into place in no time. He was up and running around again in no time. It’s not…”
Before I could say “…a big deal,” Maya started in on me with a shitload of questions, although Robert did his best to calm her down. Turns out he wrestled in high school, and he backed up what I said about how easy it is to fix, even if it hurts. I threw in my story about it having happened to me playing football.
“But soccer’s not supposed to be a rough game…”
“It isn’t,” I said. “Jacob was just running a little wild on the field, that’s all. He had 16 months of built-up energy to burn off. You’ll see, he’s fine.”
I told the boys to wait outside the family room; I felt it was my responsibility to tell Maya what happened. Then I called them in – the cameras were still rolling – and Jacob looked like nothing had happened, although you could still tell he was a little excited from his adventure.
Maya got up and ran towards Jacob, then, when she was about to hug him, she stopped.
“Does it hurt?,” she asked.
“I’m fine, Mom,” Jacob said. “Really. It was cool how that dude fixed it…because it did hurt like a motherfucker when it was dislocated.”
I knew that expression was going to come back and haunt me lol.
“We can bleep that out,” Ethan said from behind the camera.
Robert was still on the sofa, and was being a lot more practical than Maya.
“Can you raise your hand over your head?,” he asked Jacob.
“Yeah, sure,” Jacob said, demonstrating, then going on to follow Robert’s instructions to make sure that he had full range of motion in his shoulder.
“He’s fine, honey,” Robert said, still from the couch. “Hunter took care of it. Good thing that wrestling coach was there. Was he on your baseball team?”
“Yes,” I said, “he plays 1st.”
Maya still looked upset, and kept checking Jacob for damage. So much so that Jacob told her to quit it…rather forcefully.
“We should still have it x-rayed,” Maya finally said. All those dudes telling her Jacob was alright weren’t convincing her completely. “Should we take him to the emergency room?”
“There’s no emergency,” Robert said. “If you want we can arrange for an appointment on Monday. I’m actually surprised it’s taken him this long to get injured, the way he runs around. Kids heal fast,” he concluded.
“Yes, but…,” said Maya.
“He’ll be fine,” Robert repeated. I was super glad that he was seeing things from my viewpoint and didn’t get all worked up the way I could tell Maya wanted to be. It was going to make an interesting scene on camera for me and the Sharpmans.
“I can see people on Facebook already saying what bad parents we are for not having rushed him to be x-rayed,” Maya said. “Cut the camera, Ethan.”
“Since when have we let the people on Facebook dictate how we raise the kids?,” Robert asked. “I’ll go put in a call to Dr. Goodwin and see what he says.”
“I want him x-rayed even if Dr. Goodwin says we don’t need to,” said Maya. She was being kinda relentless…and I felt as though I was dangerously close to getting caught between the two of them.
Best thing to do in a situation like that is to get out of harm’s way and let the parents work their problems raising kids out on their own. I know I’m responsible for the boys a lot of the time, but they’re not my kids, and I don’t get to make decisions for them. (If I could, nobody would be discussing homeschooling Matteo.)
“We should probably get cleaned up, cowboy” I said to Jacob. Matteo has a way of staying immaculate, probably because he hates being dirty. Jacob was sporting some grass stains that looked like he fell down more than once while he was playing soccer, and I was still covered in dirt and overdue for a shower.
Probably to make it real clear that he was ok, Jacob ran out of the room and up the stairs at top speed, something I know Maya doesn’t like him to do. Jacob’s legs aren’t long enough to take the stairs two at a time the way I usually do, so he runs up them instead. I was pretty drained, and in need of a beer as much as I was in need of a shower, so I headed over to the pool house and opened a cold one. I was a good boy and held off as long as I had the kids to drive, but now I was home and had no plans for the rest of the day (although I was going to spend the night at Joyce’s after I saw the boys through dinner.) Only once I opened the beer did I realize how shaken I was by the whole experience. If Chuy was right and this was like practice for fatherhood, I gotta say, being a dad must be pretty nerve-racking.