I’ve been spending a lot of time on the floor lately. No, not J-Lo’s kind of floor. No, I haven’t suddenly gotten clumsier (Gina would say it’s not even possible to be more clumsy), nor have I begun to spontaneously fall everywhere. I’ve just been trying to see the world a little more from Noah’s perspective.
I’ve been crawling around chasing him at bath time to burn off that last little bit of energy he usually has before settling down to bed. I’ve been playing ball with him, which right now consists mostly of rolling it his way, and then chasing it down once he drops it out of his hands haphazardly. (But he’s getting the hang of it.) I’ve been looking up at the Christmas tree with him, trying to see what catches his eye from the underside of the branches. I’ve seen the underside of the dining room table for the first time since we moved – turns out it was made in Malaysia. And of course, I’m now looking under the couch on a nightly basis, trying to find the latest errant pacifer, shoe, or the newly missing piece of the Little People Nativity set that we tried to set up on the coffee table. All in all, I’ve been giving my knees and shins a good workout while leaving most of my clothes in shambles. Love is ensuring that your clothes are going to be covered in dog hair, spit, lint, snot, dried food, or some combination of the above at all times.
The floor, however, can be unforgiving, and it’s not just me that has a love/hate relationship with it. Noah had his first two major tumbles recently, one from the couch onto the hardwood floor of the living room and one from the changing table onto the carpet in the nursery. He’s more at risk for falls because he’s currently in what I’ll call the Jerk Around Randomly Stage, where he will just stiffen his body and propel himself in any direction without warning and without regard for his current elevation, and before we know it he’s losing the fight against gravity. Never have I felt as much guilt as when I looked down to see the kid that I thought was resting quietly on the changing pad instead falling through the air. That’s right, I was responsible for the changing pad incident, and of course it happened so fast that the only thing I was able to do was grab on to the hem of his diaper to try in vain to slow his fall. But at least my parenting guilt is shared by Gina, who supervised the couch fall that also included what is believed to be Noah’s first somersault. We’re not in any rush for a repeat performance.
Luckily, kids are pretty darn resilient, and Noah is completely okay. That’s not to say we didn’t pull a rookie parent move and take him to the doctor after the first fall off of the couch, though. The pediatrician was polite and very thorough in her examination, but I suspect it was more about assuaging our guilt than out of being medically concerned for Noah.
He’s not even walking yet, and Noah’s had some bumps and bruises. I know he’s going to have more close encounters with the floor, and other hard objects, and he’s going to hurt himself, and that’s part of growing up. Heck, I frequently rode a little red wagon with no steering down a steep West Virginia hillside during elementary school, and I turned out okay (yes, of course my friend Joe and I got the idea from Calvin & Hobbes). So, I have already outgrown any outlandish desire to put Noah in a bubble. He’ll have to make his own way eventually, stubbed toes and all.
But now I’m starting to think that a large part of parenting is just trying not to make it any easier for your children to hurt themselves. Am I on to something here?