For your first birthday, you got a lot of presents. I got you a little baby “walker” of sorts – you had just started learning how to walk, but you couldn’t do it alone yet. You had found a solution for that problem, though: you had a thing for pushing The B’s dining room chairs around the house, so I figured I could buy you a toy that would be a lot easier to push and would have fewer damaging effects on their hardwood floor. You took to it pretty well – after falling down a couple of times and realizing that you didn’t have to push on it with quite as much effort as you pushed on the chairs, you became a regular pro with your toy walker.
Two days later, at your birthday party, you got another similar toy. It was a miniature grocery cart – technically it wasn’t a baby walker, but it had wheels and that’s all that mattered to you. Towards the end of your party, when we were gathering up all of your goodies, you decided you wanted to walk around and since the grocery cart was the only thing with wheels, you decided it would be you “walking aid.”
Unfortunately, you had to push the grocery cart with even less effort than you had to push the toy I got you. And since the mini grocery cart wasn’t actually built to be a learn-to-walk tool, your idea of walking around with it backfired. You pushed down on it a little hard (since that’s how you did it with your other toys) and the part you were pushing on went down and the front end of the cart went up. The front end whacked you in face just before you went down to the floor with the back-end of the cart that you were pushing on. When you rolled over, I saw that you were bleeding from where your mouth had been hit.
I was horrified. If there was one arena in which I failed as a parent that day, it was keeping my calm and comforting you. Because, of course, you immediately burst into tears…and so did I. Being surrounded by people as I was, I held it in pretty well, but I have felt so hurt in my entire life. I picked you up and held you and hugged you and eventually handed you over to J when none of that worked. Eventually she got you calmed down and you were happy as a clam on the way home, but I will never, ever forget that.
Apparently, I had a similar experience when I was younger. Pop-pop 3 would always tell me about the day when I was three or four, and I decided I was literally going to walk around in my mother’s (Grandma M’s) shoes. Of course, they were too big and I tripped…right into the corner of a bench on our porch. I still have the scar on my cheek. Pop-pop 3 said it was like watching slow motion – he could see it all happening, but no super human powers could get him there fast enough to stop it. He always relayed this story to me with incredible intensity, and I never understood what the big deal was, especially since I had come through it just fine.
I finally understood after your incident with the cart. It hurt me more to see you hurt than any physical pain has ever caused me. Even though you turned out just fine mere minutes later, I think I’m scarred for life. I would have given anything to spare you those few minutes of pain. And nothing is sadder than you when you cry. You stick your little bottom lip out and your eyes get all red and you bury your face in the nearest person’s shoulder…it’s making me feel sad to think about.
Witnessing your child get hurt results in the strongest empathy I think I’ve ever felt.
Therefore, you are not allowed to: fall down, break any bones, play any sport that could result in injury, use kitchen knives, be within a foot of any outlet, drive, burn yourself, handle any hot food or beverages that could burn you, eat anything that could choke you, play with anything that has claws or sharp teeth, swim in bodies of water deeper than a few inches, wear scarves (Google Isadora Duncan), or go anywhere without wearing a helmet and knee/elbow pads.
I’m glad we had this talk. I can’t wait to see you this weekend! We’re going to have so much fun sitting in the middle of an empty room, devoid of any objects that could possibly result in you being hurt.
But just know that every time you get hurt, I get hurt with you. I guess it comes with the territory of being absolutely, completely in love with you. I promise to get better at not losing my head anytime I see you fall or otherwise injure yourself. It’s a tough promise to make, but in the spirit of letting you figure the world out for yourself, it’s one I’ll try to keep.
But while I try to do that, maybe you could lay low on the cart pushing, and stick to wearing your own shoes.