Kids are easy to hurt. Plain and simple. They’re little and tend to be uncoordinated, and compared to them we’re BIG and… tend to be uncoordinated. Look, we don’t even spank the boys in our house, so this isn’t some child abuser’s psychotic attempt at an excuse for going postal on one’s offspring. I’m talking about accidentally hurting your kid. It happens. It is awful. And in your head, you give yourself the death penalty.
A backward step, a closed drawer, a dropped spoon, a cardboard coaster being inexpertly tossed like a ninja star… I’ve discovered the ways you can accidentally hurt your little one with simple, every-day actions are nearly endless. That’s not even taking into account playing with them or teaching them something new, which increases the odds a thousandfold by the way. For me these moments are all more or less a kind of a private nightmare of shame, guilt and embarrassment.
My Most Recent FAIL
This is going to sound really bad, but it wasn’t that bad actually. And I’m not just saying that so you don’t all hate me and call CPS. I hated myself more than enough for all of you and every CPS agent in the country. Here it goes: recently, I gave Lucas a re-acquaintance with pain by way of our car door. I know I know I know! ARG!!! Though it was really very mild and he wasn’t hurt badly, I wanted to put my head under the car tire and have Lizzie gun the engine.
I’ve got three boys (the oldest 13 years old) so I’ve had a good few of these awful experiences in my time. It still cuts me to the core.
Dealing with the Situation
I respond in a number of different ways. I’m talking about how I handle my child that I’ve just hurt, not about me s##ting in my pants as the Gods of Parenting flood my bloodstream with adrenaline, Tabasco sauce and liquid guilt.
I’ll pick up into my arms the now screaming lad and bounce him around comfortingly, as if to say “Heh heh! Hey there, pal, we’re alright, right? Heh! See? Look, I’m bouncing you around comfortingly!” FAIL. I’ve been the stoic hand-holder, silently seeing the moment through, as I die inside of course. I’ve done the “hug of a thousand tiny fist pounds.” I’ve teared up and stumbled away as Lizzie swoops in to deliver comfort and kisses. I’m not trying to suggest anything here particularly, or come off as a brutal klutz with no regard for my kids’ safety either. But love is always a safe bet. Love and resisting the desire to put your head under a moving vehicle.
I Will Avenge You!
I once even tried reversing the situation. I failed miserably at playing toss with Cody one day, but was a total winner at the Hit Your Kid in the Head with a Ball game. So, while he was looking at me through a pint of tears, I took the ball and tossed it at myself. (This maneuver was pretty much like taking a picture of yourself with a cellphone, except you don’t throw your cellphone at your own head). Cody’s crying slowed almost to a stop, and then… uh uh, didn’t work, full blast again.
Never Give Up! Never Surrender!
There is a very razor sharp difference between your baby crying and your baby shedding tears to an extended and wordless expression of the statement “WTF was that for, you a##hole!?! I thought you loved me!!!” Within the span of a second, your stomach can freeze solid or catch fire, a metallic taste can flood your mouth, and your testicles can purchase an immediate and non-refundable, one-way ticket to the inside of your body.
You may say to yourself “Never again! I’ll never go near my kid again!” I sure have. But then they’re better, and then I’m better, and I’m back at it with them: playing, teaching, carrying, dadding.
I’ll never give up. I’ll never surrender.