I remember when my kiddos were just learning to walk.
For a short time, they both did the Frankenstein walk, taking a few unsteady steps with both hands either out in front of them or above their heads for balance.
And inevitably, they would stumble and fall. Y was always pretty good about getting her hands down in front of her to cushion the landing. But the boy child. Oy. The boy child was always a little top heavy it seems and while he got his hands down, he still ended up falling forward until his little forehead touched the ground. I swear in slow motion sometimes.
Fortunately, we haven’t had any super major injuries (KNOCK ON WOOD!) except for that one unfortunate collision that X had with the corner of the kitchen counter a few years ago that left his father and I making that decision about heading to the Emergency Room. Felix googled and made some phone calls, while I stood there looking at the hole in his little forehead, saying, “Yeah, that is not going to close up on its own.” while realizing that the loudest cries where coming not from the injured boy but from the hysterical girl child, sobbing on the couch a few feet away. But I digress…
Being a connoisseur of all things parenting magazines and books back then, I recall articles from random people who are experts on … well, themselves … about how I should react when my kiddos fall down. I remember reading about how I shouldn’t OVERreact, how I shouldn’t run over to them and make a big deal about things, but instead I should encourage them to get back up and do it again.
Easier said that done when it is your kid hitting the pavement.
But I have to say that I have developed my own personal response style when it comes to my kiddos falling down and/or getting hurt.
I don’t mean to, but I have come to realize that when they are doing those things that could cause major injuries and more trips to the Emergency Room…like jumping off of high things or swerving on bikes and doing tricks off of the diving board or throwing balls at each other’s heads or … you know, the stuff of being kids… I gasp.
I suck in air and make a noise like the world is ending in front of my eyes. Probably in reaction to my heart skipping a beat and my mind’s eye seeing all the ways that this could go terribly wrong, terribly quickly.
But then I will say that I do recover quickly and tend to respond in a fairly calm manner to each of these scenarios:
*** If it was a ‘kid-stoopid’ thing to do but no one is hurt: “GASP!!!!! OMG, Do NOT do that again!”
***If it was a ‘kid-stoopid’ thing to do but there is a minor injury: “GASP!!!!! Are you ok? OMG, Do NOT do that again!”
***If it wasn’t a ‘kid-stoopid’ thing, but was a true accident with a minor injury: “GASP!!!!! Are you ok? Let me see it. Let’s get you fixed up. Ok. Get up and and try it again!”
Depending on the situation, there might be a kiss and a cuddle or an extended time spent just holding in my lap, but then it is usually, “Get up and try it again.”
It is just hard to watch them fall down. It is. There is nothing easy about seeing your child get hurt or seeing the potential for injury which abounds in kidland. Mommas are masters at the silent prayer, “Please don’t let them get hurt. Please don’t let them get hurt.”
But isn’t it true … that making mistakes and getting hurt sometimes is part of the learning process. A part of the process where we learn how to make better choices. And we learn how to do things better. Because if we don’t fall down. If we don’t mess up. If we don’t get messy. If we don’t try. If we don’t take a risk sometimes. We never learn what we can do. We live in fear and miss some of the magic that comes from these experiences.
And as parents, as hard as it is, we have to let them try. We have to let them know that …
We fall down. We get back up. And we learn.
We learn to keep our balance better.
We learn to land with both feet.
We learn to protect ourselves.
We learn to think ahead and have a plan.
We learn not to make too-sharp turns.
We learn to watch where we are going.
We learn how to try something new. And then try again.
We learn that it is not the end of the world if we do fall down.
And we learn that someone we love will be there to pick us up when we do.
Even if your Momma does make that horrible GASPing noise in the process.
We still learn how to get back up, dust ourselves off …
and try it again.
Let’s all, Go. Do that.
Just for fun, here are a few video examples of my kiddos falling down.
While ice skating.
My GASPS are not audible, (however my southern drawl seems to be working overtime) but trust me, there were LOTS of GASPS! Lots of them! And for the entire three hours that we were all on the ice, my silent prayer was: “Please don’t break anything. Please don’t break anything.”
This is my hockey player, for sure. Look at that style of run, glide, run, crash. At least he followed my directions when I said, “Don’t hit your head!”
Yeah. I know. Ouch. This is when I remembered how serious I was about NOT falling down myself! I don’t bounce like that anymore.
Y’s my cautious glider. She got the hang of it so fast and I think she is really good considering this is her second time on ice in three years. (Third if you count that weird outside plastic ice rink we went to that time. But that was just weird, skating on white plastic and made me paranoid about the plastic shavings all over us…and even though it was on ice skates, I don’t think it should count.)
And then the race. Figure skater vs. hockey player. Y would like it duly noted that X crashed immediately after he passed by the camera. That’s true.
And the sibling love continues on.