Last Saturday, Thing One was tripped while making a full-speed run at goal during a soccer game. Both boys went down, Thing One landing heavily on his left wrist. He nodded when the ref asked if he was ok. But he wasn't. I could tell by the way he was holding his arm for the remainder of the game. Thank all the saints his wrist wasn't broken, most likely just (ha!) sprained. After a week or so he had most of the full range of motion back in the joint and had stopped wearing his protective wrist brace, although he did say that when he raised his hand in class yesterday the entire class cringed at the bruising that still stretches halfway down to his elbow.
Then, two days ago, he was in another on-field collision. Legitimate, nothing dirty, just an opposing striker trying to score and Thing One the centerback hell-bent on stopping him. The other boy got up, but Thing One did not. He was down on the field, curled on his side. Since the ref can't stop play for an injury (soccer having a horrible track record of flopping) the boys on his team were screaming at the kid with the ball to kick it out of bounds. The second it cleared the sideline, the boys were kneeling by Thing One and two of them put their arms around his shoulders and helped him limp off the field while we watched in horror, having no idea what was hurt or how badly but guessing it was his ankle.
For injuries not requiring an ambulance, it's not cricket for parents to approach the bench during a game. We sent Petunia over to scout out the situation, and he told her that he'd been kicked in the ankle and was doing okay but wouldn't be playing anymore that game. The best of a bunch of bad alternatives, to be sure, but his ankle was still swollen and black and blue when we got home and got a look at it.
At this level, the kids aren't man-sized, but they are big enough. Thing One is about 5'8" and 130 pounds and a good number of the kids out there are bigger than he is. When two of them crash, or when even one of them hits the ground, there's a lot of force involved and somebody is going to get hurt. Force equals mass times acceleration and all that. Physics is a bitch. And I am going to be spending a lot of time over the next few years watching my babies get hurt and hating every goddamned minute of it.