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.