Rory has a big head, like 90th percentile size head. It doesn’t look abnormally large—he is like 85th percentile for height too so he doesn’t look like an orange on a toothpick—but it is a big head. Sometimes that head gets a little over his skis and BOOM, Rory goes bonk bonk.
To be honest, I’m shocked at how often he falls even with a huge head. I know he only learned to walk like 9 months ago and I learned like 36 years ago and I still fall more often than an adult male should, but it’s that he falls seemingly without any warning. There’s nothing on the ground, no sticks or random burp clothes or anything to trip on, and he had been running around for like 15 minutes with no issues. I turn my back for a second, and smack, he’s down.
He doesn’t always cry and we’ve gotten better at not reacting right away as we’ve learned he sometimes takes his cues off us. If we react like he should be hurt, he will act hurt. But once in a while, we know he’s hurt right away. It seems to have a different sound, more of a heavy smack than a light thump. And those are the ones we hate.
Recently, Rory had two bonk bonks on back-to-back days. The first was when he was running around the front room, picked up his shoes to take to the door signifying he wanted to go for a walk, accidentally put his foot in my shoe, slipped, and when down lip first. He bit his bottom lip hard and it was instantly black and blue. There were tears…lots of tears. But, like most things with kids, he bounced back pretty quickly. Quicker than his parents did. We considered throwing away all shoes in the house to prevent this injury from happening again and also covering the floor in bubble wrap, but we need the shoes for our own feet and the bubble wrap for moving.
The next day, I took Rory for a walk on the sidewalk around our neighborhood. I should mention we do this regularly and Rory sometimes falls, but not often, and usually just stumbles and catches himself. However, my stomach jumps into my throat 3-4 times a walk when I think he’s going to trip, and I try to grab his hand to support him but he slaps it away like a goalie bats away a weak shot, steps over the lip of the sidewalk in front of him and moves on like he’s been doing it for 30 years. Another moment where Dad feels unnecessary and unwanted.
Moments later, though, I was very necessary and very wanted, because he went bonk bonk. His shoes are getting a little tight and the velcro is getting a little loose, and I think they combined to make him stub his foot in the ground, go down on his hands and knees, and then right onto his forehead. Instant tears again. Loud crying rang out throughout our densely populated neighborhood. I could see road rash already on his forehead, too. My stomach as ready to come out of my throat.
I carried him about a 1/3 of the way back home, but then he wanted to get down and walked the rest of the way holding my finger, which was very nice for me. But I couldn’t help but feel awful. I was right there but I couldn’t stop him from getting hurt. As a parent, I always want to protect Rory and Lucy from getting hurt, but I know that isn’t realistic.
I’m starting to come to grips with the fact that I can’t stop them from falling down. It’s really hard, because I want to stop them from falling! I always want to stop them from falling. But instead, I just have to be OK with always being there to help them up. I don’t want to my kids afraid to take risks or try new things because they are worried they might get hurt. I want them to feel like they can try new things because they know we will be there to support them. And if they do get hurt and they want to walk home and hold my finger, well, I’ll be OK with that, too.