Kids should come with warning labels. All sorts of warning labels, in fact. A few off the top of my head:
Caution: Slippery Diaper Ahead!
Chance of Crying: High
Danger! Will Cause Extreme Drowsiness!
But the biggest one should be about causing bodily injury, because kids are dangerous. And not just to themselves, but to their parents, too.
I mean, is there a parent out there who hasn’t gotten head-butted in the face by a smiling, clueless infant who keeps on smiling even after he’s potentially broken your nose?
When my little guy was a baby, I was pretty sure he was trying to kill us. There were the aforementioned head-butts to the nose and also to the mouth (hey, those teeth required three years of braces, kid!), pokes to the eyes, the occasional chomp on the nipple while breastfeeding.
Now that he’s a toddler, I’m a little more sure of the fact that he’s a ninja-in-training who’s trying to take us out. Gone are the days of the underdeveloped nervous system and all of the random bodily jerks and spasms of a newborn, so I can’t blame it on that anymore. Now, there’s the exuberance that comes with being two, of course—the pent-up energy that has to get out somehow and usually does with the force of a mushroom-cloud explosion. And the “I love you so much, I will hug you around your neck till you can’t breathe” strangleholds that seem reserved for Mommy. And let’s not even talk about the flailing arms and legs if the kiddo is having a tantrum.
And my poor husband. Whenever we have a middle-of-the-night visitor in our bed and said visitor squirms out of my cuddle, he seems to whack Daddy in the head pretty much immediately—and repeatedly. And at other times of the day, my husband has gotten nailed in his delicate bits with a fist, a foot or a full-body slam more times than I can count. Every time I’m around for one of those, I ask my son: “Baby, don’t you want to have siblings someday?”
Despite all of my war injuries, I have an excellent track record of dodging limbs and noggins—much better than my husband—because I usually anticipate what’s about to happen. Even in my sleep. Seriously. I’d like to think that I’m finally tapping into my inner Buffy the Vampire Slayer and developing supersenses, but I think it’s just a mom thing and has something to do with my energy being in tune with my kid’s. Especially in the very early days, our babies are an extension of us, so much so that there’s really no separation at all. According to research, kids literally don’t know that they’re separate entities until they’re around 7 months old, and for moms, I think that we technically know that the umbilical cord has been severed at birth…but don’t really feel it for a while. There was no separation for me for a long time, which is why, I suppose, I had such a hard time doing any sort of real separation from my son when preschool started.
But if you’re particularly tired—you know, more tired than your average sleep-deprived day or night—you fall out of sync with your little one. You don’t see it coming, or maybe you just can’t move out of the way as quickly. Or in my case yesterday, my guard was down because bodily injury hadn’t been inflicted in a while and I was distracted.
It was a virtual circus in my apartment at the time. The cable guy was there, trying to fix our ridiculously slow Internet connection. A repair guy was also there, fixing our ceiling after two bad leaks from the apartment above. And as I was trying to put together a toy for my son, he grabbed a nearby mop and—while pretending to clean, one of his favorite pastimes—accidentally whacked me really, really hard in the head with the stick end of it. So hard that I literally couldn’t open my eyes for two full minutes as I mumbled, “I’m OK. Mommy’s OK.” (We had the conversation about being more careful and not accidentally hurting anyone when I could think straight again.)
When I finally did open my eyes and look in the mirror, I had a delightful, puffy, red welt on my forehead. Up until that point, I’d actually been happy with the way I’d looked that morning. I knew it was too good to last.