A couple of weeks ago I was leaving the house with baby Rita. Having made sure Rita was securely strapped in her stroller, I turned to lock the front door behind me. Letting go of the pram and turning to lock the door couldn't have taken more than a second, maybe two. But in that time, with my back turned, Rita and the pram managed to roll their way off the porch, down the steps, landing upside-down on the concrete path. There was a long, chilling silence before Rita’s scream cut through the air.
Fast forward through several frantic minutes and I’m sitting with Rita in our local doctor’s surgery as he studies her head. It is, reassuringly, still attached to her shoulders. It is also, according to the doctor, all in one piece. Just as I am thinking to myself that I might be able to get through the whole incident without having to tell Susie anything about it, the doctor tells me Rita will have a nasty but impressive bruise. As it happened she produced a big old glorious shiner of a bruise, a pulsing neon sign that spat out in huge letters: “My dad dropped me on my head. What kind of monster is he???”
When 7-year-old Maisie was a baby I was far too young, cocky and naïve to admit that I knew nothing about kids and was secretly terrified of the whole parenting caper. I cleverly disguised this with a bold and brash display of parenting over-confidence. I was determined, for example, to carry infant Maisie in my arms like it was no big deal, tucking her under one arm like I was carrying a six-pack into a barbie. The problem with this approach, as I discover on more than one occasion, is that I kept banging her head into door frames as I entered or exited a room.
With our second, 4-year-old Frances, I was mature enough to admit that protecting my child took precedence over my desire to look relaxed and casual. While other kids casually rolled down our street on their scooters, Frances was banned from stepping foot on a scooter without helmet, knee pads and elbow pads. When I suggested to Susie that Frances should be wearing reflective clothing if she was going to ride her scooter, it was casually but firmly pointed out to me that I might be going a bit too far.
But by the time baby Rita arrived I was confident I had the balance sorted. Not too casual, not too over-protective. In fact, if I was a breakfast cereal I think I’d be called something like Right-On-The-Money. The only problem is you can’t help bad luck. No matter how under or over protective you are, accidents happen. And even perfect parents can, in the juggle of doing one hundred things at once, forget to do something as fundamental as putting the brake on the pram. This doesn’t make them bad parents – does it?
Have you ever accidentally hurt your child? How did it make you feel? Comment on Joseph's blog.
You can’t help bad luck. No matter how under or over protective you are, accidents happen!