I’m not equipped

There are exactly 5 times during the day when my heart is not pounding out of my chest and I am not in a state of complete and utter panic.  These times are breakfast time, lunch time, dinner time, nap time and bedtime.  Why? Because these are the parts of my day when Luke is securely buckled in or behind (crib) bars.  I guess I can add the times when we’re driving in the car as well, as long as he isn’t eating something or finding something he thinks he can eat in his car seat.

I clearly recall not understanding my mom-of-boy friends when I had just Hannah.  I couldn’t relate to the always running, never sitting, constantly throwing, prone to climbing, no fear of falling, thrilled to be jumping, unable to be restrained boys.  I had that girl who sat with a book for an hour.  Who I could leave happily sitting in the middle of my bed at 18 months old while I showered and not worry she’d attempt a Superman type feat by flying onto the floor.  She wasn’t interested in jumping down the stairs.  Climbing onto the kitchen table for kicks wasn’t her idea of a good time.  Picking small beads off the floor and popping them into her mouth, opening drawers and grabbing forks, standing on the rocking horse, and teetering on tricycle seats, also, never floated her boat.  She started walking at 15 months and didn’t run until 22 mo.  She knew to put her hands down first when she fell face down.  She was cautious, wary, slow and patient.

I need to find armor for Luke.  He’s had 2 trips to the ER for falling down the stairs and bloody lips, scraped eyes and bruises and welts on his forehead are daily occurences.  I really think one more visit to the ER will have us under investigation for child abuse.  And it’s not like I’m not vigilant.  I try to keep up with his climbing and running but unless I was Elastaman, I’m afraid I just can’t get to him fast enough to catch his falls.  And half the time, it’s while I’m chasing him, trying to prevent a fall from happening, that he falls face first in an attempt to get away from my protective arms.  Shouting “Go Slow!” isn’t registering.  And grabbing his arm (if I can get there fast enough) or trying to hold his hand results in a complete meltdown from lack of independence.

I’ve had bad dreams the past three nights.  Not bad dreams, but really terrifying dreams.  The kind that I wake up sweating and even crying for fear that they are reality.  The past three nights I’ve awakened in a cold sweat, and immediately turned on the monitor to look at my sweet boy as he sleeps.  I even have hugged the monitor to feel closer to the boy who my dreams have made me believe is… gone.  My dreams are telling me that I’m feeling inadequate in caring for him.  I’m feeling like I can’t protect him from these daily accidents and fearing much worse.  I’m afraid of being the mom to the kid who doesn’t fear the busy street.  The one who thinks he’s invincible from falling into the swimming pool.  The one who will unbuckle his car seat mid-ride (because he’s already trying).  I’m worried.  I’m the mom who is prone to worrying to begin with and now, I actually have something to worry about.

And I wonder (look at me, wondering again…), are the kids (I won’t limit this to boys since I have many friends with”crazy” daughters too) who are fearless risk takers at 18 months the ones who are more apt to jump from airplanes, hurl themselves off of cliffs, veer off the cleared ski slope into the woods, and skateboard off of sidewalk railings?  Even worse, are they the ones who will climb into the car with someone who shouldn’t be driving?  Drive recklessly for thrills?

Part of me loves that Luke has no fear.  He jumps into any situation with anticipation and joy.  But I’m scared that if I’m not able to protect him from minor spills, how can I teach him to protect himself?  Will it take a few bigger injuries for him to learn?  Will caution come with maturity?  He doesn’t listen and isn’t threatened by my shouts of “NO!” when he does something I don’t approve of.  He smiles coyly and goes back to repeat what I’ve just scolded him for.  The more I sternly wag my finger at him, the more he giggles and wants more.  Walking away to not call attention to it, puts him in harms way but continuing to do what he is craving (“Mommy looks angry, that’s funny!”) is fruitless.

I know I’m not the first mom to a boy with these INSANE tendencies.  My son is no worse than the others.  He’s otherwise happy All The Time.  He doesn’t complain. He sleeps like a champ. He dances to the tune of anything (even the dial tone and busy signal on the phone) and tries his hardest to sing along to the radio.  Hide and Seek is his favorite new game and I want to bottle up his laugh when he jumps from behind the door in his attempt to be “found”.  But I want to hide.  Hide from my fear that I’m not equipped to handle his kind.

When he’s found his caution, he can come find me.



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27 responses to “I’m not equipped

  1. I have a similar experience….but am more terrified by my daughter despite her logical behavior and cautious choices. My son I can handle. I know what do about blood, screaming, big falls, disasterous ideas, wanting to play with fire, attempts at jumping down the stairs etc…. But I worry, a lot, every day, about raising a girl. I worry about the pink and the dresses and the role modeling. I mean I am freaked by it. And I worry about a teenage girl most of all. What will I do?

    I suppose, like you, I will muddle through, right?

    • You have such a good point. I have deeper, longer lasting worries about my daughter. It’s a scarier world for girls out there and I do hope I can keep her safe in it. We’ll all work through it I suppose and hope that being girls ourselves, will be of some help! I know I’ll learn from many of my own (and my mom’s) mistakes when it comes to her, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

  2. One out of my three girls is cautious the other two throw their caution in the wind. Although I am sure they still aren’t as brazen as boys tend to be. This parenting gig is tough and the worry just comes with the territory. 😉

    • So so true! It really isn’t girls vs. boys. It’s more personality vs. personality. Maybe first vs. second/third. I don’t know, all I know is that I hold my breath each day as I try to keep him safe from himself!

  3. Oh, Becca, I wish we could take a little bit of Luke and put it in Big Boy and a little bit of Big Boy and put it in Luke. That way, we would have the perfect balance of risk-taker and overly-cautious.

    My heart is aching for you and these feelings you describe. And I love the Hide-and-Seek metaphor. Love it.

    • Oh yes, I think Luke could use a little of Big Boy in him! In the end, I think they’ll both be just fine. Just different. Their own people, safe in their own skin. We can just do what we can to thrive with that skin (and in my case, keep his skin!)

  4. Tamara

    My now 4 year old son is a dive right in boy as well. I decided it was too much stress to worry all the time. I have found that just saying “you are going to get hurt” does a lot more for him than “no”, “stop”, “don’t”.

    He loves helping unload the dishwasher. I explained that the knives with black were very sharp and would make an ou-wee. He still insisted on getting those knives and telling me he was okay. Well, finally one day, he knicked himself. Not bad, but it drew blood. He gave me a scene fit for a princess. He showed everyone his boo-boo. But that fixed it. He is very cautious around the knives now and hands them directly to me.

    I asked him how many times I had to warn him about getting cut before he listened. He told me five. It was more like 5,000.

    • Yes, I’m hoping that by the time Luke is 4 I can use some more words and that a few injuries will teach him a lesson. For now though, at 20 months old, I’m just not sure HOW to teach him.
      I’m so glad to hear that you’re boy is now listening… at least I know they do learn!

  5. crnnoel

    I know all too well what you mean 🙂 And honestly, Paige thinks shes’ a boy, and is ten times crazier than Fynn was/is. Because she learned from him. I think second kids tend to be fearless because they just think they can do anything – they’ve seen their siblings take on the world, so why can’t they? With Fynn, he thought before he did anything. It might have still been crazy, but there was thought behind it. Paige doesn’t think, she just does, and that’s so much scarier!

    So I think you’ve got it twice as hard, having a second child being a boy 🙂

    • I do think you’re right Corinne. It’s not a girl v boy thing. And the more I talk to people, the more I hear seconds are just tougher. I was a second though and I don’t THINK I was the daring, risky, non-listening one. I’ll have to double check with my mom on that one!

      I keep telling Hannah to stop climbing on everything because she sees that Luke follows right along but she’s JUST becoming risky like this so it’s fun for her!

  6. My Queen sounds like your Luke. She dives into everything head first. I know it is good, but it is scary.

    Since we live in a small apartment (made smaller by all my handy child gates, which will only stop her for a small amount of time), I don’t have too much space to contend with. Yet, every day she manages to hurt herself. It is crazy!!

    We will go somewhere and people will stare (okay, mostly because she is really cute). She is wild!! I know that as her climbing skills develop, I will have no safe place! She already loves to jump off of things!

    Seriously, if you receive any inspiration, would you mind passing it off to me? I could use some.

  7. My oldest fell from the top of a climbing structure at the playground when he was about 22 months. It was way above my head. When he landed, as I was having my heart attack, he yelled, “AGAIN!!!”
    Oh. My. God.

    All three of my boys are climbers, jumpers, no fear kids. I’m not sure if they need to be medicated or I do.

    • OMG. That’s hysterical re: AGAIN! I can see it. Luke will fall or slide off of something and shout, “MO!” (“More” in luke speak).
      Yes, medication. It will help us all…

  8. My favorite part of this whole (fantastic) post? That your little guy dances to the sound of a busy signal. How amazing would it be if we could all find joy in such little things?

    I am fascinated by the gender divide alluded to here. I wonder if it is boys or second kids? My baby girl is a handful too – has been climbing and running and creating mad amounts of mayhem since she was 11mo…

    • Yes, Luke will purposely push the button on the phone until the dial tone stops and that HORRENDOUS annoying beeping starts and he starts to dance and twirl to the “beat”. The good part is that I have no choice but to dance right along with him!
      I’m starting to think it’s a birth order thing, not a gender thing… all I know is that some days, he needs a cage.

  9. Becca, start buying stock on Xanax now. It only gets worse as these boys of ours grow and become even more diabolical.

  10. I swear one of the first words I taught my son was “dangerous.” Not that it stopped him from running headfirst towards anything that grabbed his attention, but still, he would ponder the thing that was “dangerous” and after awhile I think he got it.

    My daughter, on the other hand, found walking on her feet too risky of a proposition and ended up walking on her knees with her hands free for an extra three months till one day she finally stood up.

    • So, I took your advice today Linda and taught Luke dangerous. He grabbed a screwdriver from me and I grabbed it back and sternly said, “dangerous”. He nodded his head up and down and said, “oooooh”. We’ll see if he gets it if I keep it up! Thanks for the tip!

      Love that your daughter walked on her knees. Kids really do things at their own speed, don’t they?

  11. Nicki

    When mine were all younger, it was #4 that was the issue. She climbed and ran, fell and bruised. She received the first stitches – on her head and the ER dr insisted on a plastic surgeon to do the stitches because she was a girl. She continued this way – playing football through Pee Wee – until she was in college.

    Believe it or not, children are sort of like Tigger. They tend to bounce where we adults would just stop and feel pain.

    • It’s so true, I almost think something is wrong with Luke in that he seems to feel no pain. He rarely cries, just bounces right back up – like you say!

  12. my solution is to put your son and my son in a cage and just let them wear each other out until they both crash (figuratively speaking, since we know they already crash quite well literally.)

    it’s so hard. there are days when i feel like i need cameras all around my apartment so that if by chance i am sorting laundry and not attempting to go cross-eyed by watching him at the same time, something happens… everything happens.

    i wish i could say that i don’t worry when he’s in bed because i do that as well, given that he now climbs out of his crib and i have yet to figure that problem out.

    good luck! get back to me about that cage match idea. 🙂

    • Yes, the cameras are a GREAT idea! I’ll get right on that… wire up the house. Then I can spy on everyone at all times while keeping Luke safe. I am very lucky that Luke is not yet diving from his crib. I’m waiting for that. He just loves his crib so much so I’m hoping it stays that way.

      As far as the cage match… you’re on. I’d like to put a trampoline in the center of the cage. The bouncier, the better.

  13. Um, hi. I think I kinda sort might just know a leeeeetle bit of what you are talking about. 🙂

    Seriously, with three boys here in this house–three different personalities, three different levels of fear and fearlessness–I have come to the conclusion that while it is not exclusively a gender thing, and can certainly just be a personality thing, boys are inherently DIFFERENT than girls and their crazy is on an entirely different level. Whoa, run-on sentence much? I hope that made sense.

    At any given moment I can have a boy on a trampoline, a boy on top of the dog crate, and a boy on top of the high-top table in my kitchen. Who on earth am I supposed to supervise first? The blood and mayhem here is more than most can bear. I’ve had people stop in for a bit and look at things aghast. Why on earth am I letting the one year old jump off the arm of the couch and nosedive into the cushions? Because really, believe me, it’s better off than the alternative and remarkably safe compared with many of his other recreational choices.

    • Sarah I think of you OFTEN when I’m having a hard time containing my ONE boy. Three… I just don’t get how you do it. I would bow down to you if you were here with me.

      Who knows if it’s a boy girl thing or a first second third thing, all I know is that some kids are brought into this world to test us. Every. Single. Moment.

  14. Liz

    Actually, I got news for ya: it’s not necessarily a boy thing. Ben was just like Hannah (surprise, surprise). I never had to worry about him. He never climbed. He never jumped. He was quite the cautious one. Aidan Kai?? HA! Climbs onto and into and off of everything and announces his successes with glee! MAMA! DADA! It is only a matter of time before we have an ER visit with him. Ironically, it frustrated me that Ben was so passive and cautious: why was he such a scaredy cat? Why ISN’T he jumping off stuff? I guess, careful what you wish for, huh?

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