Ian is a tough little boy. He runs fast, jumps high and falls hard. If he cries, it's because he really got hurt. His cancer battle has made him stronger than I could have imagined, no thanks to me. My husband deserves all the credit for this one.
After Ian's diagnosis, he needed to have a Medi-port surgically placed in his chest. The port is a round device that stayed under his skin and connected to a major vein; it provided easy access to his blood stream for blood work and infusions during radiation and chemotherapy. The surgeon told us to keep Ian still and quiet for the rest of the day. He was groggy when he woke up, so I didn't think it would be too difficult to keep him quiet. Ian had other plans. By the time we put on his seat belt, Ian asked if he could jump on the trampoline when we got home. I said, "Absolutely not!" Dave said, "We'll see." I promptly glared at my husband.
When we got home, Ian asked, "Can I jump, Mom?"
"If you want to, Bubby." Dave cut me off. I was furious. Didn't he hear what the doctor said? How could he be so careless? I hissed as much in his face.
Dave stood his ground and firmly told me, "If my son wants to jump on the trampoline, he's going to jump on the trampoline. Don't you think he'd tell us if he felt sick or weak?"
It made sense, but I wasn't ready to concede. "Fine. But don't expect me to watch."
"That's fine. I'll be out there with him." He went out back with Ian while I stayed in the house and cried. I didn't want Ian to get hurt. He had so much pain in his life already. How could my husband put Ian in more danger? Didn't he realize that Ian's life was so precarious right now? Didn't he realize that the doctors couldn't guarantee that Ian would see his fifth birthday?
And then it hit me. Dave realized it before I did. Dave wasn't going to let Ian miss out on any experiences Ian was physically capable of doing. If his son wanted to jump, he was going to jump. How would I feel if someday Ian could no longer jump? How much pain would I feel if I denied Ian a chance to experience the weightless joy he felt on the trampoline?
I heard Ian squeal with joy as he said, "Watch me, Daddy!"
Dave's response: "Jump, Bubby. Jump."
I finally understood. I vowed to let Ian judge his own limitations from that point on.
It has been hard not to smother him with a mommy blanket, but I've kept my promise. Whatever sport or athletic activity Ian wants to try, we let him. It was hard watching kids throw Ian to the ground during jiu jitsu, but he laughed it off and would give it back. Once I did request that the coaches organize the players during hockey warm-ups because the other team was skating in the wrong direction, and Ian was knocked to the ground three times before the game had started. (I then imagined myself slapping the crap out of the man who told me Ian had to grow up sometime.) My instincts are to protect him, but Ian is tough. He shakes off most falls. I know it's serious when he cries, and he rarely does that.
That is until one day, at his hockey game, Ian fell hard. He was lying on the ground, not moving. He was crying, loudly. The coaches turned off the game clock and had all the players take a knee. I have never seen them do that before. I ran to the rink wall and tried to figure out if I could jump it to be by Ian's side. He was so far away from me. I couldn't see if there was blood or a dangling leg. I imagined the worst. My husband walked over and stood by me; he rubbed my back while I tried to hold back the tears. Dave was calm, which calmed me down. After what seemed like an hour (probably more like two minutes), Ian stood up. Everyone clapped for him. I was holding my arms open, expecting him to skate to his mommy so I could comfort him. Ian shook his head and then skated to his position. I wanted to say "No. He's hurt. Make him come to me!" But then I looked at my husband. Dave nodded his head in pride and approval. I conceded instantly. My heart sang out, "Skate, Bubby. Skate."