Monday, October 17, 2011

Racer's death leaves little boy searching

I saw my son get kicked in the stomach this weekend. It was hard to watch.

He was sparring at tae kwon do class, and he let his guard down. His sparring partner didn't mean to hurt him, really, but he saw an opening and took it.

My boy didn't let on he was hurt, though. He just took a deep breath, gave me a thumbs-up and sat down.

That was Friday. Sunday afternoon, he was watching an IndyCar race with his dad when tragedy struck - popular racer Dan Wheldon was killed in a horrific, fiery crash.

My son, 8, is a big IndyCar fan. Like thousands of others, he was a fan of Wheldon. But he didn't see the crash - he'd left the room briefly. My husband had to tell him later. My husband, a former sports editor, was upset, too. He'd interviewed Dan several times, knew him to be a genuinely nice person.

He told Sean straight out what happened. "That's terrible," my son said. And he shut his door.

Later, though, Sean started talking about the crash. "I didn't see what happened," he told me. "Maybe I should watch it on YouTube."

"No," I said. "I think you should just remember him as a good racer and a nice person."

"Okay," he said.

He came up to me later. He was clicking his tongue, a nervous habit he has. "I didn't get Dan Wheldon's autograph when we went to the track," he told me. "I wanted to, but I was out of paper, " he said.

Click, click, click.

"I was out of paper."

"It's okay," I told him, and I gave him a hug.

He walked away, still clicking and frowning.

I watched my son get kicked in the stomach this weekend. Twice.

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