As I type this, the gooseegg on my son’s forehead is growing larger by the second. The bruise appears to be getting darker, yet Kendall seems unfazed as he happily munches and sucks on his mesh feeder full of frozen mango. I wish I could say this was the first/only/last noggin blemish he has or will experience, but so far it’s just the most prominent since it happens to be right above his eye and not covered by any hair. In fact, it seems no matter how many times he lets go of something while standing and hits his head on the way down he just doesn’t get that next time he will get the same result. I guess he hasn’t reached that mental milestone yet. Or do men ever really get that concept? Perhaps they do. It’s just that they don’t really care.
Maybe that’s the case here because many times it seems Kendall just doesn’t really care about the pain inflicted by the corner of the wall as he smacks his cheek against it and slides all the way down to the baseboard. Other times, a seemingly innocuous topple can send him into a wail that can rival a fire engine. I can’t quite figure out the equation that equals a scream for mommy’s quick rescue.
Fully standing + smacking right temple on exersaucer + landing on butt = a brief pause, followed by a devilish glance back at the very same thing that assaulted him, and a giggle. Pulled to knees + face planting into the carpet = puckered lips and whimpering. Hanging onto the pantry door with one hand + letting go only to find out that gravity is a bitch + cracking his head on the hinge on the way down = a cry for mom that almost convinced me he had a concussion.
And every single time I see him start to falter, I want so badly to run for him and catch him. Every time I see him land, I want to gasp out loud because my gut reaction is horror, honestly. But, I don’t. He falls if I can’t help it, which ( since I don’t make it a practice to follow him around the house with a pillow in hand) is quite often, and instead of shouting what is going through my head “*GASP* OH MY GOD!! ARE YOU OKAY??!!! I AM SO SORRY! I AM THE WORST MOTHER EVER!!!”, I wait those very important 2 seconds. Those 2 very long seconds when HE decides if he’s going to care about the pain.
It’s one of those lessons…straight from the invisible book of parenthood. Don’t let them see you flinch. Fake it till you make it. When you see them fall and you want to scream out and rush to kiss their boo boos – DON’T. Instead, put a big fat smile on that face of yours and say as loud as possible, “Whoopsie!” or “Uh oh!” or something similarly lame. Oddly enough, this seems to work about 70 percent of the time. Even after falls that make ME want to cry. But it all rides on those 2 seconds where he lies there silently twisting his face into what will either become a grin sometimes followed by a giggle or silent gasping scream. And I just wait and watch with a smile as big as I can make it.
Nobody ever really told me about this “rule”. I guess it comes after witnessing kids and babies respond to how their parents react. However, I did read something a while back in the surprisingly alarmist book about baby food called Super Baby Food that I think takes the theory to a level of ridiculousness. Author Ruth Yaron warns in Chapter 3 on Baby’s First Meal, sub-section “Poop Panic”:
Remember to keep your facial expression pleasant when you are changing your baby’s diaper. (With some poops, this may be a real challenge!) He will notice any look of disgust on your face, which may teach him that his private parts are repulsive and lead him to believe that sex is “dirty” when he gets older.
Well, thank you for that Ruth! We FINALLY get to the heart of the matter. Because of your insight, I’ll know exactly why my son will end up in therapy. Surely not because of the crying it out, but because of the expression on my face when I peel that diaper open to find whipped sweet potatoes dotted with chunks of peas that strangely smell like buttered toast.
Kendall is 8 months and one day old and looks like he’s just finished a game of rugby