That's how the past few days have gone for my family, and it all started with a tap on the shoulder.
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I was listening to research essay presentations when a student came into my classroom to tell me that I was needed in the gym.
My daughter was injured and was asking for me.
At first, I thought it might be a practical joke: See how gullible the teacher is and watch her react to this news.
Then I noticed the concerned look of the student who delivered the message, and I knew he was being sincere. Besides, my students are thoughtful of and respectful to me, so they would not joke about something like this.
My daughter had rolled her ankle during an indoor soccer match. She was in a great deal of pain, and the area around the ankle had started to swell.
So we made a trip to Urgent Care. An X-ray indicated the possibility of a fracture.
That's when the reality of the situation set in.
The championship soccer tournament was just a few days away. She would not be able to play with a fractured ankle. Even with a bad sprain, playing time would be questionable. A midfielder with a sprained ankle? That's not a good combination. Too much running. At best, she would have to switch positions.
As we sat in the exam room together, I could tell she was very sad. She had looked forward to the tournament all season.
I was considering how to encourage her when my mom called. After hearing an update, Mom reminded me of a similar incident many years ago. I needed an emergency appendectomy the same week as the district track meet and my senior prom. I couldn't compete in the meet, and I moved very carefully at the prom.
As I think back on that week, I have many fond memories. I remember cheering for my teammates from the sidelines and gazing at my friends on the dance floor. While I wanted to participate, it was rather relaxing to be an observer for once.
So I decided to take this teachable moment and run with it.
"Honey, perhaps your role in this tournament will take place from the bench. I know you want to play. That's why you went out for the team. Yet sometimes the most valuable positions are overlooked. If you can build the confidence of your teammates and greet them with enthusiasm when they come in for a water break, you may be able to influence the outcome of the game."
Life doesn't always go as planned, but sometimes that's a good thing. Last-minute changes force us to examine the various roles we assume in life and the many ways we can make a difference.
With that attitude, we won't be on the sidelines very long.
Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to email@example.com.