My children love life. They love playing and giving it all. I don’t want to rob them of this. They are entitled to a normal childhood and I am willing to accommodate them wanting to be just children. I will supervise them in their gravity-defying, gut-wrenching acrobatics, even if I know I won’t sleep at night while imagining the worse. I used to have so much fun doing the same not that long ago, it seems.
They get their fair share of bumps, scrapes and bruises, especially the youngest one. I don’t like using labels when it comes to people, but I had to come to the conclusion that she was an accident prone child.
1-What I thought was just a clumsy phase as been lasting for years now. At first I thought, she’s two years old, still getting used to walking around. She’ll outgrow this clumsiness. At four, she was still ungainly. At six, no change. Nine has been her worst year yet, with a major concussion falling at the playground; a hospital stay for appendicitis (not her fault, a first!); she got herself bit by a dog in the face and electrocuted in a pool. Now at eleven, she still regularly crushes nerves and muscles, and gets scrapes all around. I am afraid this is just going to be part of who she is.
2-I have regular talks about the definition of “paralyzed” and “quadriplegic.” I have to give sessions as part of our homeschool program about safety reminders and what to do in case of an emergency. I discuss in details the consequences of breaking one’s neck, how life dramatically changes when someone is paralyzed from the neck down. I’m not trying to be scary, just safe and practical.
3-I have to disconnect emotionally when they get hurt because it just happens too often. It is a bit like turning off the emotional part of my brain to just function on the rational. I’m pretending that all is well, when in fact I know something is wrong but I have to wait it out before rushing to the ER and make a fool of myself. I appear cool and collected while analyzing and processing the signs and symptoms with reassuring words. I try to rationalize, knowing that kids bounce back quickly.
4-My child is very active and has a very short, short-term memory. It is part of the daily routine to give out safety reminders of all kinds before any activity. She is very active. She needs to be in constant motion. Often, she will walk circles around the table while we homeschool, reciting her times tables. I try to work with her, try to understand the way her brain works, even though it’s so different from mine. Patience and repetition. Patience and repetition. Just breathe and say it one more time.
5-We have an above average rate of broken dishes and food on the floor. I have stopped counting how many times the eggs haven’t made it from the chicken coop to the kitchen. I have stopped scolding for the glasses and plates dropped while helping with the dishes. There’s no need to make her feel worse about it.
6-I check vital signs in the middle of night. Am I crazy? Tell me there is another mother out there that also does this, please? When they are sick or have hurt themselves badly, I can’t help myself checking on them while they sleep. Do they breathe evenly and regularly? Is their pulse strong and steady? It gives me peace of mind and I can go back to sleep until they stir up again.
7-The First Aid kit is used often and the Band-Aid box is constantly empty. As any parent, I want to protect my children from as much harm as possible but they don’t live in bubble-wrap. That’s why we have a well-stocked, well-used First Aid kit. And we go through lots of Band-Aids.
8-I am afraid to go to the Emergency Department because I think they will call Child Services. I love my children. I know I’m a good and attentive mother. But at times I have felt like a terrible mother and have been ashamed of taking my youngest out in public because of the amount of bruises and scrapes she had and because of what people would think.
What is there to be done with an accident prone child? Just love them, be patient with them, make them feel normal. Let them enjoy their childhood and guide them as safely as possible towards adulthood. It is a constant balancing act.