Tuesday, May 28, 2013


When my son hits his head by accident, I say to him, "Oops - Bonk!" and give him a big smile and a kiss to let him know he's okay. Usually he doesn't cry; most bumps are minor, and he's got a tough little noggin. But lately, it's not the saying, but the sheer number of times I've been saying it that's bugging me.

All little kids bump their heads. I know this. Forget for a second that he's a boy, which, according to my husband, means I'm destined for a life of knowing the ER docs on a first-name basis. But I wonder if it's something I'm doing, as well.

I'm not very good with knowing the relative location of my own body with regards to other objects in space. I'm forever bumping my elbow, or my toe, or my shin, or my own head on items in my house (door jambs, chair legs, the dryer or refrigerator doors, etc.), to say nothing of other people's houses or locations with which I am far less familiar. Add on sleep deprivation, plus my newest 9-month-old appendage, and, though I'm careful as I can be, I'm bound to miscalculate on occasion.

Yesterday, I think he bonked his head no fewer than four times, two of which were most definitely my fault. He stood up on the diaper-changing station for the first time, over which are some low-hanging shelves (Bonk!), and when I was trying to pick up a paper clip so he wouldn't find it and choke on it, he did an abrupt backbend in my arms and smacked his head on a drawer unit (Bonk!). That one left a mark.

Luckily, none of these hits has been so hard as to do any permanent damage... yet. It's the sudden gymnastics in my arms that make me want to adorn him with a protective helmet: when he's nursing on my lap and all of a sudden lurches backwards into the (rounded) corner of my computer. Or when we're in our tiny bathroom and I'm about to put him in the bathtub, when he surprises me by throwing his head backwards towards the sink. Again, nothing concussive... yet.

When I was newly on my own feet, I was running, and began to trip. I think I was younger than two. My mother reached out to try and catch me, and ended up tripping me faster, sending me face-first into the concrete below. I think my poor mother is scarred for life over that one; I still have a slight bump in my forehead, over which I have parted my hair these last 40 years. This is my nightmare. Some kind of cosmic kharma that will play itself out with me and my poor son.

My nephew recently fell and bumped his noodle really hard, and when my shaken sister took him in, the pediatrician said, "Have you ever hit your head?" Of course she had, so the doctor continued, "How did you feel afterwards?" She said, "It hurt for a little bit, but I was okay." The doc replied that that was how her son felt, too. I try to remember this lesson whenever he's in my arms, and I'm too close to the door frame (Bonk!) or when he tips over while sitting and playing on the (carpeted) floor. (Bonk!)

My friends all have horror stories involving ceiling fans and falling off (or into) furniture, and I'm just bracing myself for our first big injury. It's coming, and I know I can't prevent it; he's just started crawling and pulling up on things, and wants to walk so badly. All little kids get hurt, I know. I just wonder if there's some kind of ritual I can perform - burn some sage or something - so that I can a) take the worst of the pain away, and b) please, God, let it not be my fault.

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