Growing Pains

 

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My ten year old son recently began limping and telling me he had a sore foot. He is extremely active so I put it down to a stone bruise or something innocuous. I finally decided to take it seriously when he was hobbling around like an old man when he first got up in the mornings. It was the end of the summer sports season and he was nearing the finals for all his sports. It also coincided with the start of training for his winter sports. Every day of the week he was exercising and it was at that point that he was diagnosed with ‘Severs Disease’.

The name conjures images of a contagious infection where the foot is severed from the body, but thankfully it’s not as disturbing as that! Put simply, it is when the growth plate in the heel grows faster than the achilles tendon can stretch and is very common in active kids after they have had a growth spurt. The only course of action was to rest and to do stretches to help the achilles lengthen. As he already wears orthotics in his shoes, these were raised slightly in the heel to relieve the tension in his tendon.

To my son’s horror, the diagnosis of severs required him to limit his activities. He had to give up rugby training, competing in his school cross country and sat out a game or two of basketball. After reducing his sport, which let’s be honest is like a cruel form of torture for an active ten year old, the pain subsided.

Severs is a condition that will flare up off and on as he grows and he just has to manage it with ice packs to reduce swelling and stretching exercises.

As a side note, the podiatrist mentioned to me that kids that get ‘Severs’ often then get another growth related disease called ‘Osgood-Schlatter Disease’ a few years later in life when the growth plates in their knees start to give them pain. He advised that my son should try to build up his quads to help support his knees before the pain sets in.

So if you have an active kid complaining of sore heels or knees there is a good chance that they are suffering from good old growing pains!

 

(Image courtesy of photo stock, freedigitalphotos.net)

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It’s as easy as riding a bike  

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There are certain times throughout parenthood where you are faced with a scenario where you need to teach your child a skill, but may want to put it off as it is a tedious or painful task for you.

A prime example of this is when you teach your kids to ride a bike. They generally start riding bikes with the assistance of training wheels. These allow them to have a sense of freedom as they wobble side to side from one training wheel to another, never having to really master balancing the bike.

Your child knows the basics of riding a bike and they can ride for fun. You have that internal conversation with yourself whether you bite the bullet and teach them how to balance and ride, or is it easier (for both you and the child) to let them use training wheels until they are an adult? It’s one of those jobs that you know is going to back-breaking but eventually you have to dedicate the time to teach them a life long skill. This means you have to try to hold the bike seat whilst running alongside the child, all the while barking orders and trying to not let the bike fall over sending the kid (and/or you) over the handlebars. It’s not an exercise for those with weak backs as it is unnatural to twist your back, pulling and pushing on the bike frame, whilst running.

My son loved riding his bike as a toddler and insisted we remove his training wheels at two years of age. As you can imagine, his bike barely reached my knees, so running, twisting, bending and manipulating the bike was a nightmare. Thankfully he was so motivated that he picked it up quite quickly, whereas my daughter was seven before we could convince her she needed her training wheels removed.

Apart from having to manipulate your body into what resembles a yoga pose while running, it also takes a bit of deception to make the child think you are holding them, while intermittently letting go in the hope that they will start to balance the bike by themselves. Eventually they will get the knack and before you know it, your hard work has paid off. They will eventually have a skill that they can recall and use anytime in life – hence the saying, ‘it’s like riding a bike’.

There is immense relief once you have taught your child to ride a bike (assuming that is without injury to you, the child or the bike) and the effort seems worthwhile. So if there is a task you have been putting off with your child, embrace the challenge and give it a go – there’s no time like the present.

(Picture courtesy of digitalart, freedigitalphotos.net)

Pop Up Frustration

  As I sit in a park writing this post I silently giggle to myself at a well meaning grandma wrestling with ‘pop up’ soccer goals. 

My amusement stems from the countless times I’ve found myself in the same position with pop up goals, sun shelters and tents. It’s like the inventors of these products number one priority when designing was how they could best humiliate parents in public. 

I once literally wrestled with a sun shelter for at least half an hour on a crowded beach. It first brought sniggers from my husband but by the end of the ordeal I was sure that I was entertaining the whole beach. I didn’t want to give in! Eventually I succumbed to following the instructions which I found printed on a tag inside the bag and low and behold it actually collapsed into a neat circle to be packed away within seconds. 
I thought after that experience that I had learned the key to collapsible shelters but to this day every time I touch one of those things it ends in frustrated groans. There must be a sweet spot that I can never seem to find. 

I’ve now just watched the granny carry the soccer goals (fully open) over towards her car. At least she has the sense to give up early. I feel bad that I haven’t offered her assistance but given my track record I think she’s found the perfect solution! 

Surely I’m not alone in this frustration. Have you had a similar experience?

COMMITMENT

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Over the years, all my children have made commitments to be on a sporting team or part of a music ensemble and half way through the term have wanted to stop participating in that group.

I must admit, as much as it would make my life easier to reduce the amount of running around I do, I expect them to honour a commitment so I will never let them drop out of a team activity. I’m a true believer that when you agree to be part of a group, no matter how good or bad you are at the task, you have given your word to be a team player. If every child were to drop out, there wouldn’t be sufficient participants to enable the groups to continue.

Furthermore, when children agree to be part of a group, this commitment also includes attending all practice sessions. This is a constant source of aggravation in our house, as a few of our kids enjoy the music ensembles they play in and sporting teams they belong to, they just don’t like the early morning starts to attend practice. But as saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’.

We recently attended a performance evening at our children’s school and it was interesting to watch the kids in the choir. You could tell the ones who attend rehearsals as they knew the words and actions to the songs, whereas the kids that obviously don’t attend regularly were left standing on the stage looking a bit like stunned goldfish either not doing any actions, or if trying to copy the other kids, were a few seconds behind.

I worry about the future of the children who are allowed to either not attend practice sessions or are allowed to quit their commitments as it doesn’t give these kids a sense of responsibility, tenacity or reliability. Sometimes ensuring your kids do the right thing isn’t agreeing to the path of least resistance, rather it’s a case of persistence.

(Picture courtesy of jscreationzs, freedigitalphotos.net)

BASKETBALLERS  

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I have agreed (maybe foolishly) to play basketball with a group of mothers from my children’s school. Our team’s experience is limited to watching our kids play and an odd game of basketball or netball twenty or so years ago.

Having watched and scored my children’s basketball games for the past ten years, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the game. Turns out that it is:

  1. Far more exhausting than the kids make it seem
  2. Far more brutal
  3. The hoop is a lot smaller than it appears

After a hard played 20 minutes our team limped off court, struggling to comprehend that we had only just completed the first half of the game. Watching and playing this game were really totally different experiences.

In the second half we lost a player after she provided the soft cushioning for an opponent who fell on top of her, leaving our player badly bruised and batted!

This experience has given me a new found respect for the energy levels of our kids and a wake up call that, whilst I may be an expert on how the kids should play the game when I’m a spectator, the same can’t be said when I’m actually the one playing the game.

Our aim was for the opposition to not double our score, which we managed to achieve. At the final siren we all gathered together happy to have played our first game whilst discussing appropriate triage for the numerous muscle strains, bumps and bruises.

They say you shouldn’t judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes – well now that I’ve run more than a mile in basketball shoes I plan to take a back seat on giving my kids pointers on how they can play basketball! Forty minutes on the court has proved to me that the game is harder than it seems and that at the end of the day, you are just there for some exercise and fun!

(Picture courtesy of digitalart, freedigitalphotos.net)

PAIN THRESHOLD  

At what point after your child has had an injury do you go from telling them that they will be fine to actually committing to getting an x-ray? I’ve struggled with this over the years. Children’s pain thresholds vary from one to another and it’s sometimes hard to gauge the severity of an injury. I’ve had a child screaming like they snapped their arm in two to find after an x-ray that there was no fracture, just a sprain and two kids seeming to be in mild discomfort to find out a few days later that they in fact had fractures. 

Last year one of my daughters fell whilst snowboarding and complained of sore wrists. She could wriggle her fingers so we didn’t think the injury was all that bad. After a day of rest, we then took her on the snow again. After her first run she complained the pain was too much. A ski-patrol assistant pressed down on the bone up near her elbow on each arm and asked if it hurt (which it did on both sides down at her wrist) then suggested we take her to the medical centre as he felt she may have fractured both wrists. After a few hours wait and a hideously expensive on-snow x-ray it was confirmed she had indeed broken both wrists. As parents we felt dreadful that we hadn’t sought medical attention earlier. On a positive note the swelling had subsided enough for them to put her immediately into plaster on both wrists. I expected I would have to do everything for her, but she was extremely resilient and still did everything as normal (including her chores). The only long lasting effect of this accident is her complete refusal to ever go on snow again!

Just recently our son hurt his chest whilst at an indoor trampoline centre. Trying to land a backflip he managed to hit his chin into his chest. He complained that it hurt off and on for a few days. The complaining was the loudest when he had to do a chore, but then he would say that it didn’t hurt too much if I suggested we get an x-ray and if there was damage that he wouldn’t be able to go snowboarding the following weekend. I truly thought it was just bruised and that his whining was just an excuse to get out of doing things he didn’t want to do. He went to the snow and was in mild discomfort until someone crashed into him. At that point he said he no longer wanted to be on the snow (which is like a chocoholic refusing chocolate!). I suggested to my husband that it may be worthwhile visiting the hideously expensive on snow medical centre for an x-ray and lo and behold, our son actually has a fractured sternum.

We can’t wrap our kids up in cotton wool, but I’m thinking that maybe we should look into getting shares in the on-snow medical centre!

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Have your kids ever injured themselves and you thought they were fine; only to find out it was more serious than first expected?

 

(Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net)

WEEKEND SPORTS  

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There is a light at the end of the tunnel! Our kids’ weekend sports season is about to end and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

We only allow our kids to play weekend sport during winter, as we like to reserve summer weekends for family fun in the sun. So each year with trepidation we allow our kids to enroll in sports, knowing the challenge ahead.

This year, one daughter played netball, one played soccer and the other played hockey. Thankfully our son played his sport on weekdays. Each of our daughter’s games were held in different locations at roughly the same time. With bated breath every week, I would get the draw for each child and jump mental hurdles trying to work out how I could get each girl to their game. Sometimes their games would be located 200 kilometres apart, which was a real logistical nightmare.

Thankfully we would car pool some weeks, so our child could take advantage of getting a lift the weeks we couldn’t physically be at each of our daughters’ games. 

On top of the actual game was the time dedicated to training sessions. Two of my daughters had two training sessions each week – one at 6.30am (on different days) and the other after school.

I sometimes wonder how I managed to keep track of all the places the girls had to be and when! 

Two of my daughters had their grand finals last week. Our eldest daughter’s netball team won 38-17 and our second daughter’s soccer team won 4-0. I guess it goes to show that their dedication to the sport paid off! So now we only have one game left of hockey and then we are freeeeee (I squeal, heels clicking in the air!)

That’s eight commitments each week I can strike off our roster! You can imagine the relief that comes with that load being lifted. Of course, they will do additional sport over summer, but it will be local weekday sport to allow our weekends to remain available for rest and relaxation!

Come Saturday afternoon, I will feel that I have regained some of my life back – that is until the kids sign up for winter sport again next year!

 

Is it just me or do you also feel relieved when your kid’s sports season ends?

 

 

(Picture courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS, freedigitialphotos.net)