I injured a friend’s child not so long ago. I belted a soccer ball into his face from about 2m away. Meet The Fockers Style. But worse. This kid was wearing glasses.
To add insult to ….well, injury….. there was blood.
His dad, a doctor, thought I had burst his septum and caused some kind of major internal damage.
The way he looked at me I thought I might be in need of a doctor.
It is hard to find a worse feeling of shame or guilt than injuring someone else’s child. Particularly the child of a close friend. Someone you have known for years. Someone you see often. It is awkward. You can only apologise so many times. There are no words of comfort.
It is hard to get through life without hurting a little person. Whether it is watching your baby tumble backwards off the bed due to lack of attention, catching their fingers in the car door or tripping over them because they are so small and you don’t see them. There is a minefield of children out there that need to be avoided. Just like a health and safety induction course before you enter a building site – there should be a similar course when you become a parent. What to look for, what to avoid and what to consider when around children.
The ball in the face was of-course accidental. We were playing soccer with the kids in the park. I was taking a corner shot. This boy was standing 2m in front of me. I was trying to gently and deftly lob it over his head for one of the other boys to knock in. I knew he was standing there. Now I am not known for my soccer skills. I had a rush of blood to the head, mis-kicked the ball and pummelled it straight at his nose.
My immediate reaction was to run over, wipe the blood away, cover his face, pretend that it did not happen and hope that no-one saw it. Except the whole park saw it. It felt like every person stopped what they were doing and looked at this child abuser. His dad walked over, a look of disgust in his face. I stood there like an outcast as he walked his child off to the side. My apologies falling on deaf ears. The game restarted and my previously inflated ego (due to my terrible soccer skills being better than the kids) was now flatter than the wee boy’s nose.
I watched doctor dad treating injured son and I didn’t know if I should go over or not, leave and go home, call off the game or go and stand in a corner. With tears running down his face the little boy chose to leave.
“I don’t want to play daddy…..”
Oh for f&*k sake I feel bad enough.
The game continued for a bit, my shame a lot longer. I had to do something to make up for this.
I called a few hours later to see how he was. Dad said his son was fine. The boy said he was fine too. I felt relieved but still guilty.
20mins later I get a call. The number was from the injured boys dad. I feared the worst. A delayed reaction, maybe internal bleeding, haemorrhaging, broken nose……..he needs a nose job or his glasses cost $500 and need replaced…….I hesitated before picking up, took a deep breath…..
It was the boy.
“Hi Rob, I’m just calling to tell you there are no hard feelings. I know you didn’t mean to do it”.
I felt myself welling up. What a lad. He was calling to make me feel better. It didn’’t help. It made me feel even worse, the wee prick.
But what an amazing thing for a 7 year old to do.
I ended up going round to their house later in the day with a few magazines as a further apology.
Apparently Penthouse was the wrong choice.