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40-Something Gymnast

I took the boys to one of the local parks. This park has two areas of climbing zones: one area has a small “footprint” but is tall and intricate — steps, ladders, tunnels, etc.; the other area is more spread out with slides and a bridge.

The Calvesgrit wanted me to play tag with them, and I obliged. It was a mild day, so we weren’t wearing coats. I tucked my cell phone — which usually sits in a holster on my belt — into my pants pocket, and I took off after the boys.

We were playing in the taller play set, which I like the best, and they would climb up into it, through the tunnels, up the ladders, and then down and around into the dungeon-like area underneath. I, instead of following the expected paths through the structure, climbed up on top of the tunnels, leaped up the ladders, and swung down on poles to reach the bottom. I absolutely love climbing around on that place.

When I’m in my zone, climbing, leaping, swinging, chasing, and catching the boys in that play set, I feel like Spider-Man — all I need are web shooters and a tall building. Calfgrit4 would try to escape me by crawling through a tunnel, but when he came out the other side, BAM!, I dropped down in front of him. Calfgrit8 would try to outrun me around the play set, but when he got to the other side, BAM!, I swung down in front of him.

I could only keep that activity up for 10 minutes at a time, and then I had to calm it down for a couple minutes. After that breather, I’d leap back into action. The boys, however, never needed a moment to rest. They can run wide open for an hour.

Whenever Cowgrit sees me doing this stuff (she’s not usually with us when I take the boys to the park), she worries that I’m going to hurt myself. And she’s right to worry. I mean, I may be crazy, but I’m not too dumb to know I’m over 40 years old, and one slip of the foot, one missed grab on a pole, and I could really hurt myself. But God, it’s so fun.

At one point, I was up on top of the play set, where there is a 8-foot-diameter platform. Calfgrit8 was “it,” coming up after me, and Calfgrit4 was down on the ground running around the circumference of the play set. I was slowly backing away from Calfgrit8, who had his hand out to tag me — I was going to let him tag me — and I took a bad shuffle down a step behind me.

My ankle twisted and I started falling backwards. Everything slowed down. I immediately knew I had hurt my ankle, badly, but my main concern was on where I’d fall. I dearly did not want to fall dangerously on my back, or hit my head on something — and there were steps, ladders, and rails all around me. I managed to catch a rail with my left hand, and this let me fall safer than just a blind collapse.

Once I was down, and I hadn’t hit my back or head, the pain in my ankle became terrible. It hurt like crazy. I hadn’t heard a snap or pop, so I thought I might not have broken it, but it had twisted pretty bad. Calfgrit8 realized I was hurt and he came to me with concern.

“Are you alright, Dad?” he asked. He sat down next to me and put his hand on my knee.

“Ow, ow, ow,” I answered. “I hurt my ankle real bad. I need a time out.”

“OK,” he said, and the look of fear slowly left his face. “But just for the game,” he added, “I tagged you before you called time.”

Despite the pain, I had to chuckle. “Noted. Now please go find Calfgrit4 and sit or play with him for a minute while I get right.”

My oldest son left me and climbed down from our top level. He found his little brother and they sat on a bench watching me struggle to get up off my back and down from the play set.

Damn but my ankle hurt from that twist. Luckily it was my left foot, so I would be able to drive the van. “Crap, crap, crap,” I said under my breath. Man, it hurt. I thought if it wasn’t broken, it sure was a waste of pain.

I managed to get down from the play set and told my boys I’d be OK. I just needed to rest my foot for a while. I sent them back to the play set to play without me. I propped my foot up on the bench and let it rest. Surprisingly, the pain subsided fairly quickly. Within 10 minutes I could walk on it, with a limp.

I followed the boys to the other part of the park and walked around for another 5 minutes to work out the injury. Soon I was chasing the boys again — but just chasing them on level ground, not jumping around on tunnels and ladders and rails.

Half an hour later, when we were all ready to leave the park to go eat dinner, we all raced back to the van in the parking lot. I was very happily surprised that my ankle was all better. I’m not Spider-Man, I thought, I’m freakin’ Wolverine! Healing factor FTW!

But the next day, my left thumb was hurting. That was the hand I had used to catch myself while falling on the play set, so I figure I must have caught wrong or something. But while my ankle never again bothered me, that thumb ached for three days after the park outing. Somebody tell me how in the world that happens.


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