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Minor Games, Major Pains

I was racked twice last week — and I don’t play catcher for the Rangers, and I wasn’t in a bar fight.
Actually, twice in a week is fairly normal these days. I’d say last year, I was racked no less than 50 times. Not that I’m counting, but that sounds about right. And I’m not talking about a glancing blow to the crown jewels. I’m talking steel-boot-to-the-crotch style racking.

But that’s by no means where my physical maladies end. Bum shoulders, a sprained toe, a knot in the back of the skull and a sore back. I’ve had four Cortisone shots in my shoulders and enough ice on my back to build an igloo. You’d think I was carrying the ball 30 times per game for the Cowboys. Not quite. I’m just a dad who enjoys playing with his kids — much like a lot of dads (heck, hopefully ALL of the dads) reading this. You guys feel my pain … literally.

It used to be that my Monday morning body pains came as a result of a weekend long softball tournament. You know, eight games a day with almost no stretching but with plenty of adult beverages. Think men in biking shorts, sliding pants and goatees with an endless supply of dip and dipsticks. Girlfriends earned their stripes by sitting through endless hours of terrible athletic feats, too much cussing and smells that are illegal in 49 states (sorry, Louisiana). All of this pleasure and hard work earns a $3 trophy, a hangover and a strawberry on your sliding leg that ruins bedding and brings tears in the shower.

Glory days, indeed.

Now, the Monday-morning aches are the result of a full-throttle weekend of dueling with a 4-year-old wielding a light saber.

Four-year-old boys have no first gear — it’s throttle down from the moment they jump out of bed until their heads hit the pillow. A light saber fight with said 4-year-old might sound like some harmless fun. But let one of those plastic sticks pop you upside your head with enough force to draw blood and you will be sure to pay attention every time your son decides to play Luke Skywalker.

Oftentimes my injuries have nothing to do with my little guy. Call them self-inflicted stupidity. Case in point: A few weeks ago I was taking on my son and daughter in a good old-fashioned game of kickball. Bragging rights were at stake, and the kids had taken an early lead when my daughter blasted a two-run shot over the trampoline. Being the “good sports” that they are, I was being taunted as if I was playing against Deion Sanders and Terrell Owens. So, sure, I wanted to tattoo that plastic, 99-cent ball into next week during the bottom half of the inning.

But a not-so-funny thing happened en route to my upper-deck shot. During my approach to the ball, the big toe on my bare right foot (big mistake not wearing shoes, by the way) stuck in the turf like a pitching wedge in U.S. Open rough. I crumpled to the ground as if struck in the back of the head with shovel. I could hear the kids’ laughter through the haze of pain, but they quickly realized Daddy wasn’t goofing around. He really was hurt. No paramedics were needed and I limped into the house defeated. Icing helped with the swelling, but I was still limping three weeks later. That was probably not a good sign.

Despite the rash of injuries, I’ll never give up playing with my kids. They will have to cart me off on a stretcher to stop me from playing goal-line stand with my son or attacking the trampoline with my daughter. I’m confident that I’m not alone in that mindset.

Advil and some ice packs can cure almost anything.