Wednesday, June 20, 2012

20.6.12 - The eye of the beholder

When your child is born, you can't take your eyes off them, literally. First of all, you can't believe there's another human being on Earth that fell out of you, so that takes some time to sink in. Secondly, they are entirely helpless. They can't do a single thing for themselves, quite unlike any other born creature in the animal kingdom. You are all they've got, so you had better keep your eyes peeled (if you can keep them open, that is.)

Then they start gaining tricks, like rolling over, grabbing things, a bit of babbling, sitting up, crawling; the list goes on. You realize that you can actually turn your head for the slightest second, but you rarely do because, well, they're still pretty incapable and quite a danger to themselves (and the cat.) My hero of a child's latest craze is climbing. He climbs the couch, the stairs, his father - you name it and he's all over it. He's started pulling himself up to stand and desperately wants to start walking but isn't quite there yet. It's a really amazing developmental stage I think, mostly because you begin to understand one of your most basic functions and how much incredible learning a child does in their first year of life. We just celebrated junior's first birthday last week and many people at his party were so excited to tell me how close he is to walking. 

Leaps and bounds. Unbelievable.

Part of this exciting development has meant mum and dad need to do more baby-proofing. He can reach the good stuff now and that's a worry. So every day sees me rearranging parts of the house to remove threats and to maintain the integrity of my spice rack, which he's infatuated with. As well, even though we live on the ground floor, every day involves a climb up the stairs of our apartment building for good measure and, I suppose, sport. He absolutely loves it. When we are over at his cousin's place, a house filled with many stairs, I rarely have a chance to sit and talk with the family because either I or my husband or both of us are after him, constantly asking each other, "are you watching him? Watch him!"

Our conversation may have changed over the past year, yes.

It make me realize that we are constantly afraid, but he certainly isn't. To the contrary, he's inspired and a little excited by the possible danger. To make the point concrete, I turned my head for a second this morning as he was climbing the couch and he slipped and went head first into the base, giving himself a stunning purple bruise on his forehead. I ran to calm him, to check he wasn't bleeding, to ice the bruise (which seemed to bother him more than the bruise itself) and after a few minutes he was right back at it, while I was having a small panic attack about being accused of child abuse. I even thought about keeping him home with me for the day because of how it looked, and of the possibility he might not be able to add and subtract in the future. He grinned at me with his six teeth and bounced up and down, excited to be scaling the sofa once more like the explorer he is. 

Brilliant or brain damaged?

What we fear for our kids, they embrace. Concerns about pain and possible injury is totally our neuroses as parents. They actually don't know what it is. Fear in this case is totally in the eye of the beholder (us) and I want to teach him to fear nothing, to try everything at least once and it seems like I'm succeeding, at the cost of my own nerves. It's easy to forget that kids hurt themselves ALL THE TIME, because God forbid there should be the slightest tarnish on your golden trophy. Of course, you don't want your child to get hurt, period, but I have to remember the lesson here is that he'll now realize not to go head first into things, lest he bumps his little keppie (head in Yiddish) and that even though it looks bad, its exactly how he will learn. Of course, there's the guilt that I didn't catch him in time (and I have caught him many, many times) but I suppose that teaches me that he needs and deserves all of my attention; whatever it is I think I need to do is not nearly as important as ensuring he doesn't brain himself.

After so many years of being defined as "easily distracted," I'm so glad you're here, my little monkey, to help me focus on what's really important.

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