Parenting

It Hurts When You're Not Your Kid's Superman Anymore

I know that the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act is a bone of contention for many, but not for me. I'm both intelligent enough to recognize that having health insurance is absolutely a necessity if you want to die on a mattress, and also self-aware enough to know that if the government wasn't making me do it I would absolutely not get coverage.

In short, my life's history is one of very poor impulse control, from a couple of years as a professional wrestler to a decade of using those same wrestling moves for spectacular death falls in Rocky Horror. I throw my fragile little form into anything and everything regardless of the danger or my physical capability of it, and when injuries like fractured wrists, broken noses, and infected cuts occur I tune it out and hope it gets better. It does, it just never gets well.

The result is a man who's able to survive a whole lot, but who can pretty much be relied upon to operate below a level considered normal for a 32-year-old man. This resulted in one of my saddest moments as a parent, a moment when my daughter realized that I was not Superman after all.

See also: Decompression: A Parent's First Night Alone in Four Years

My wife was working in the NICU at the hospital on Saturday night, which meant she wouldn't be home until almost one in the morning. That left me and the Kid With One F with the evening to ourselves, something I do enjoy a great deal.

We had a ball. We ate hot dogs for dinner, and munched gummi bears for dessert. We put together a 200-piece Disney villain puzzle my brother had got her for her birthday, then snuggled watching Doctor Who Christmas specials in the papasan chair. Then it was bedtime. Teeth, nightgown, story, and boing me.

To clarify, boing me means that I bounce her way up in the air like a spring from the living room to her bed. It's one of her favorite things. I'm the roughhouse parent. She climbs up me and backflips off. We pillowfight, we race, we somersault, and just for fun I sometimes carry her to the couch chanting in a made-up language before dropping her onto pillows as if I was a cult leader sacrificing a victim to the volcano god to ensure the harvest. Hugs and suplexes, that's me and my girl.

On Saturday I couldn't boing her. Honestly, I could barely walk. Literally nothing below my waist works correctly. The wrestling and the high heels on cement did horrible things to my knees and ankles. My hips have always been bad, and were prone to popping out of joint when I was younger. My toenails grow inward at all times, so I'm usually in pain. Lately, I allowed a fungal infection to go untreated long enough that I apparently scratched off a fair amount of skin from the bottom of my feet without realizing it. I was literally limping on open wounds.

"I can't boing you tonight, heart," I told my daughter.

"Why daddy," she asked.

"Daddy's feet and legs hurt too bad to do that tonight. I'm sorry."

Piece continues on next page.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner