Guest Post: My Son’s Helping Hand to My Health

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This is a guest post by Jared Harris.

Last year, one of my buddies asked me if I would help him with the renovations on one of his several residential properties. Besides some volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity with some of my fraternity brothers, I had no real previous experience in anything home improvement-related. Still, I agreed to help.

In the process of installing a glass-paneled door, I tripped over a nail and lost the grip on my side of the door. My right hand went directly through the glass, slicing four of my tendons in the process. I panicked and there was blood everywhere. I had no idea what the extent of my injury was before we made it to the emergency room, but I knew that I had lost total control of both my index finger and thumb. During the car ride, I tried to make my brain tell my fingers to move, but nothing would happen.

Normally, during a medical crisis, my thought process goes straight to “How much will this cost?” But this time, all I could think of was “Now, how will I ever be able to show my 7-year-old son how to shoot a perfect jumper—with the gooseneck wrist and everything.” Or, “How will I teach him how to throw my legendary fastball.” Or, most of all, “How will I teach him a correct handshake?” which, to me, is one of the hallmarks of a respectable man. Because, as Esquire writer Tom Chiarella recently pointed out: “a man who has a good handshake can do any goddamned thing he wants. I’m not saying he will; I’m saying he can.”

So, after two surgeries and six months of hand therapy, I could tell that my son had been missing some of the outdoor, athletic activities that he and I did regularly. We biked, we played catch, we threw the frisbee, we learned how to play tennis together, and we played intense games of one-on-one basketball. When I was finally ready to put my hand back to the test, I was a nervous wreck. What if I was too weak to hold a racket or shoot a basketball? More importantly, what if I couldn’t play the sports I loved anymore and became an overweight father?

Well, my hand has healed. Unfortunately, it’ll never be a strong as it was, but I can do mostly anything I used to be able to do. I’ve noticed that my son’s physique is sharpening up and he’s resorted to challenging me to push-up battles—which he knows I can’t win because of the pressure that push-ups put on my bad wrist. He’s not a very graceful winner either, but I usually get him back when we do endurance activities like biking, running, or intense workouts. I’m sure all of the parents out there know how much their children love to play with their smartphone.

So, since my son won’t stop harassing me about mine, I told him that he can only play with it if he completes a challenge one of my fitness-related apps. In particular, I point to the Johnson & Johnson 7-minute workout app that I downloaded. It’s designed for all fitness levels, so I usually set mine to the level just below “professional athlete.” The boy can’t handle it, so I win and I get to keep him from destroying my phone. According toVerizon Wireless’ website, they say that next month’s new Galaxy S5 phone (I’m a self-proclaimed Samsung nut) comes with a built-in heart monitor and a ton of activity-tracking features. Great, so this basically will make it that much more difficult to pry my phone out of my son’s hands if I get one of those. An additional feature means another toy that my son will want to play with. But hey, if that will promote staying in shape, I’ll deal with it.