One of the worst moments in my life as a whole was when my oldest son fell down a flight of stairs. I can and probably always will, remember it vividly like it was yesterday. It’s a hard thing to forget, time seeming to stop, frozen in the moment when your hand misses your child’s by a hair’s breadth. I can’t think of a single scarier memory honestly. Everything after that happened in a blur. I remember picking him up of the floor but not running down the stairs. I remember screaming so loudly that my wife heard me from the first floor (we were on the third). Michael was just shy of two when this happened and I felt like a shoo-in for “Worst Father Of The Year”.
Miraculously Michael was fine. Not just fine but after describing the situation frantically over the phone to a doctor we were told not to even bring him in. The kid didn’t even have a scratch on him. He was shaken up of course but no where nearly as badly as his mother and I. That’s when I realized that much like Tiggers, children were made out of rubber, though I don’t suggest throwing your child down the stairs to test this.
The funny thing about your child getting hurt (not that there is really anything funny about your child getting hurt) is that 90% of the time it doesn’t phase him or her one bit. That is until mom or dad starts freaking out, in which case the baby starts following suit. They freak out because you freak out. People will tell you that the trick is to just stay calm when your child get’s hurt and wait to see what their reaction is. That’s a great idea in theory but when your kid falls off the jungle gym and her knee is bending at an impossible angle, even if she’s cool as a cucumber, your first instinct is going to be a Chernobyl level meltdown. And that’s only natural because you love and care for your kid. These perfect parent’s out there who let their babies cry themselves to sleep, don’t get upset when their kids get hurt, and put their infants on a sleeping and eating schedule are either robots or Scientologists and I don’t trust either.
As a first time parent it takes a few bumps and bruises before you realize that kids get hurt. It’s a natural part of growing up. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent, It just means that you’re human and you can’t protect your kid from every hazard no matter how hard you try. Kids despite their fragile outward appearance are built to withstand quite a bit of damage. Of course that doesn’t stop you from freaking out over every hangnail if it’s your first child but when your second baby comes you’ll notice that he or she could be running around on fire while rabid badgers nip at their heels and the biggest response that it will earn from you as a parent is a quick glance up from your smartphone and a slight shaking of the head. This isn’t to imply that you care less with each subsequent child but just that you start realizing how indestructible the little scamps truly are.
Having a baby eleven years after your last one however, feels so much like being a first time parent again that I’m back to worrying about every little pratfall that Grayson takes. Just a couple of weeks ago I was back in the running for “Worst Father Of The Year” when I accidental scalded the baby’s nether region. I thought it would be fun to bathe Grayson in the sink like my parents did when I was a kid. Everything was going fine until, like and idiot, I turned on the hot water to rinse out his washcloth, somehow forgetting that there was a baby in the sink and the poor baby got a crotch full of second degree burns. The noise he made is one I hope that I never hear again for the rest of my life. I immediately felt like the biggest failure a parent could possibly be. I rushed him into the bedroom and put an icepack on him. Within a few minutes he was fine and laughing. Not only was there no real damage but his skin didn’t even peel or anything. He was 100% fine.
All parent’s at some point inadvertently cause or fail to prevent some degree of harm to their child. The biggest thing to remember is that you are not the only one and that chances are it hurts you WAY more than it hurts them. Children are like Timex watches: They take a licking’ and keep on ticking.
Seriously though, don’t lick your baby, that’s just creepy.