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Face Value

Danny was hit in the face by a pitch during his baseball game last night. There is no good place to be hit in the face, but he was lucky that it was not the nose, eye, or mouth. He took it directly on the cheek, just above his mouth. There was a little blood and immediate swelling and bruising. He didn't loose any teeth and the cut was on the inside of his mouth.

He is a ten year old playing against kids as old as twelve, and they throw hard. When the pitch hit his face I blurted out 'sh*t!' and ran through the gate and onto the field, expecting to find lots of blood and an unconscious son or at least one in complete agony. The crowd went silent and all I heard were my footsteps on the turf as I ran to his little body that lay flat on its back in the batters box.

When I kneeled over him and looked down at his face I saw wide, watery eyes staring up at me. He answered my questions with a quivering lip but kept himself together. He was hurt, but not in need of medical attention. We looked him over, made conversation, and were satisfied that he was going to be ok. His coach asked him if he could get up on his knees and Danny stated, "Yes," and popped up on his feet and ran to first base (Part of me wanted to take the choice away from him, but it was too late). As I watched his dirt stained back-side make its way to its rightful place, I stood at home plate amazed, surprised, and proud.

I am used to being the safety blanket for Danny. In times of stress, pain, or fear he always came to me for comfort. I'd scoop him up, put his little head on my shoulder, prop his little butt on my arm, and pat his back while tears and boogies soaked my shirt. But not last night - instead of running to me he ran away from me, and stood on first base with a look that said "Don't even think about making me go sit down." As his teammates and coaches called out "thata-boy Danny Millin!" I turned and walked back to the stands as the applause for Danny cascaded over the field.

He came around to score that inning and his toughness and determination was the talk of the field (I wish I had a video of him rounding 2nd base on the next play). When he made it home I went over to the dugout to check on him and to make sure he was keeping the ice pack on his cheek. He saw me, said he was "fine," and moved down the far end of the bench. He didn't want me and he didn't want to leave his team. I turned, smiled to myself, and went back to a calm but worried Deb in the stands. My little boy is no longer little and he no longer needs me all the time. He had his best game of the season as he went 2 for 2 and scored twice.

He was also hit by a pitch in the face - and somehow, it was a wonderful night

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