I’m brushing my teeth. Noah was due to join me since we’re minutes away from running for the school bus.
I spit, rinse and head out of the bathroom. What now?
“Noah, what are you waiting for?”
He’s crumpled on the couch, grabbing his leg. He looks up at me in pain. No tears. Noah explodes into waterworks when it’s real.The dryness tells me it’s not serious.
He shakes his head and just grabs his leg.
Oh come on, I think!
“Noah, talk to me. What’s wrong?”
“My leg,” he gasps, with great effort.
“Did you fall?”
He shakes his head.
“Did you bang it or get it caught somewhere?”
He shakes his head.
He’s not yet ten and in great shape so there’s no way something has let go in his leg.
He stares. There’s no room for negotiation. He hops up on one leg.
“Where does it hurt?”
He grabs the place where the thigh connects to the rest of the body. Probably just a small twist or a cramp. I’m impatient.
In fact I have no patience.
I hate whining… I hate hearing it, I hate doing it even worse.
“Come on, if we miss the bus we’ll have to walk, so even worse for your leg. Go brush your teeth.”
He heads to the bathroom, hopping on one leg.
“Walk on it!”
“Walk on it!!”
He lowers his injured left leg and puts weight on it.
“Ow, ow, ow…” Each step he takes is perfectly punctuated by a yelp. If I listen carefully there’s a tune in it.
Later, as we head for the bus, he starts hopping on one leg.
“It hurts if I like keep walking on it.”
“The pain will go away only if you keep walking on it. Use it or lose it!”
“That’s how muscles are.”
Leg muscles, arm muscles, heart muscles.
Pain is more often an indication that you have been underusing a faculty. When you need it, it hurts….so you try not to use it and it’ll hurt worse when you need it again.
Fall in love, suffer, fall in love again. Avoiding pain is a slow death.
As we get to the bus stop, Malcolm hi-fives him, “Noah, whazzup?”
Noah explains his pains to his bus stop buddy.
“That’s no good, man, no good at all.”
The two little men commiserate.
“Hey Malc look.”
Noah jumps to pick something off the ground. He holds up a one inch wide bottle cap. The two boys have a spontaneous reaction.
They laugh and push each other.
“Jinx. I said it first.”
“No, I did.”
“No, you fail.”
“Come on let’s set up goals.”
They run around, pick up various rocks and pieces of brick to set up two goals on the sidewalk. Malcolm kicks the cap/puck towards Noah’s goal. Noah leaps and blocks it.
“Oh yeah, oh yeah, I’m awesome.”
He positions the projectile, backs up two steps….
…yes, two steps, two legs, two feet…
.., and kicks it with violence. It whistles by the slower Malcolm.
“Oh yeah, Goal! Goal! Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh… .”
He does a victory dance, yes on two legs, two feet.
Use it or lose it.
Must remember that today at every moment when I might be tempted to avoid the risks of living and loving in an attempt to stay alive.
Suffering is inevitable, misery is a choice.