Yesterday Joey was riding his bike in the driveway after school. For more on what Joey is like when he rides a bike, click HERE. Anyway, he took a turn too fast and too sharp as he headed downhill (really it was more down slope) and I watched him take his usual fall with no grace and no shame. This time, the handlebars twisted and nailed him right between the legs.
I...he...it was...awful. Just awful.
He immediately began to wail, of course, but also amidst chokes and gags and breathless cries of, "I'm gonna be sick! Oh MY GOD!" I didn't really know what to do, thinking back to all this times I'd seen this happen to guys I'd known. Usually they just needed space. And air. Lots of big gulps of air.
"Just breathe through it!" I called encouragingly.
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" he hollered through the pain.
I rushed to him and hugged him tightly. I'm a mom. What else am I going to do? But I knew I was entirely out of my depth here, so I just kept saying softly, "It will get better. It really will." And then for good measure, I told him, "This hurts grownup men as much as it hurts you, and you're handling this MUCH better than they ever do." Joey actually seemed comforted by this, and he managed to gather himself emotionally. He limped off to a chair, dragged it pitifully into the sun, and collapsed into it. He rested there for several long minutes before feeling ready to go off and play again. And not on his bike, you can be sure.
A little bit later, I was still a bit worried, so I broached the subject carefully. I used my gentlest, mommiest voice as I whispered, "Honey? How's your...you know...your injury?" And I gestured briefly to his region.
Joey looked appalled. "Ugh, Mom. Come on."
"Well how is it?" I pressed.
"It hurts a little still."
"Well, you can talk to Dad about it when he gets home from work."
But I just couldn't seem to let it go. I was genuinely worried. What if he'd permanently injured himself? Did other boys his age ever hurt this part of themselves, or is this an injury that happens to stupid teenagers when they are too daring, or stupid men when they cross a line in a bar? I mean I really just didn't know. So a little bit later, I leaned over to Joey, cringing a little at what I knew was going to annoy him, and said, "How's your, you know, your--"
"It still hurts, okay?" he said. Joey really isn't the type to grow annoyed with me, so I really had to force myself to see that I just couldn't help this situation. I just had to wait for my husband to get home and deal with this thing I would never understand. Or really want to.
At bathtime, it was clear that Big Joe was running a little late. As Joey climbed into his jammies, he mentioned (to my great honor), "It does still kind of hurt." Then he added, "In that place under my penis."
I frowned, debating whether I thought I should bring this next part up. I decided he should probably know. "Do you know that's called? That part?" I wrinkled my nose, hating the word. Joey hesitated, as though trying to remember. I filled in for him. "It's your testicles."
Joey's eyebrows furrowed and his mouth bunched up on one side, as he was thoroughly perplexed. "Huh," he said. "Dad just said it was my balls."
Horrified, I rocked back onto my feet from my knees. "Oh," I said weakly. "I guess you could call it that, too."