The 3rd child in any family benefits by having experienced parents and older siblings willing to help out, however, the downside is that they don’t always get the attention the older siblings may have been fortunate enough to experience. Thing 3 was always trying to do what the older kids were doing. He had experienced parents and two sibling to mimic. He walked earlier than they did, he climbed stairs and jumped off stairs. He would climb on the kitchen counters and on top of the refrigerator to get snacks and then jump right off the top of the fridge without climbing down to the counter first. He was a do-er. He was a daredevil. He had no fear and he had a distracted mother.
In the summer of 2009 I had surgery on my knee and when I went to Physical Therapy, he would tag along with me. The Physical Therapist on our 3rd visit observed him bopping around the therapy room and said to me, “He’s a toe walker. How old is he?”
He was 2 1/2. She said that walking on the toes is common in toddlers when they first learn to walk, but by they time they are 2, they should grow out of it. However, I should see his pediatrician about it, just to be sure.
How did I miss this? He is the 3rd kid. I am supposed to be experienced in what toddlers should and shouldn’t be doing. I watched all the milestones with the other two. How did I miss this with the 3rd? Mom guilt overload.
To make the long story short, he was indeed a toe-walker. But why? He was evaluated for everything from Cerebral Palsy to Autism. Nothing. Then one doctor said that some kids just have short heel-cords and walk on their toes. No big deal right? Well when your kid is more comfortable in stilettos than gym shoes and all he does is run and jump off things, it will cause problems. So off to physical therapy 3 times a week.
After the PT didn’t really help, he was fitted with leg braces. AFO’s was the term used. They were pretty cool looking with cars and trucks on them. We ended up wearing some form of leg braces for 3 years. It helped a little, but not much.
–His various Leg Braces-
In the summer of 2012, we were told by the orthopedic surgeon, that he would need to have surgery to correct this. If he didn’t, he would end up having joint issues as early as 20. It was better to do the little surgery at 5 years old than it would be to have a hip or knees replacement at 25. So we scheduled the surgery for September so he could have the summer to be a 5 year old.
The surgery went well and he was fitted with full long-leg casts for 8 weeks.
–The day after surgery–
So after the long 8-weeks of walking around like Frankenstein, trying to NOT pee on the casts and taking sponge baths, we finally got the casts off. They came off in 2 stages.
-Stage 1 cut the casts down below the knee-
He healed up well and about 2 weeks after the short casts came off, we were cleared to start PT to rehab the legs, tendons and muscle loss.
PT went well and we were looking at some other options to keep him moving. Karate was the first one we tried. He liked it and did well. But the summer before surgery, Thing 3 participated in USA Hockey Learn-to-Play program through MOHockey. He loved it and even though we hadn’t been on the ice in nearly a year, he said he really wanted to try it. PT gave us the green light, as long as the doctor approved. 3 -weeks later in the spring on 2013, Thing 3 tied on a pair of skates and all the equipment and played with the local hockey club for their spring hockey program.
–Spring Hockey 6 months after surgery
It was a good thing he had a lot of equipment on. He fell. A lot. The one thing he did say was that the skate boot kept him from skating on his toes. LOL. I thought that was insightful for a 6 year old.
He had to work hard. He had to skate harder and practice more often than the other 6 year olds. We had to wrap his feet in gauze and tape to keep the boot from rubbing the scars on his Achilles. Not once did he complain. He wanted this. He wanted to be normal and not the kid with long-leg casts.
Spring hockey ended and we started thinking about playing for a team more seriously. Hockey is expensive. Equipment is expensive. Travel is expensive. He was 6. Did we really want to make this monetary and huge time commitment right after having major surgery and months of PT?
Well, we did. Jump first; look 2nd.
When I look back on those 1st years in hockey, I wonder now what I was so worried about? But as all parents do, we worry about every little decision. Am I setting up my kid for a lifetime of therapy to get over his childhood? Will he hate me if we don’t do hockey? Will he fail? Will he be made fun of because of his scars?
Kids adapt so much better than their parents.
–The day of surgery and 1 year later–
I asked him the other day what he would do if there wasn’t hockey. He said he can’t even remember at time when he didn’t play hockey, nor when he didn’t have gnarly scars on his feet.
“Mom, if there wasn’t hockey at all? Well, then I guess I would have to invent it.”
Good thing we jumped first.