Take good care of yourself, you belong to me

Lately, Z has been seriously clumsy.


Spill-y, trip-y, stumble-y.

She squirms around in her kitchen chair at every meal, often spilling her milk or dropping her silverware or falling onto the floor with a thunk.

She trips. A lot. It happens more when she's tired and it's been months and months since she last napped (RIP NAPTIME OH HOW I LOVED THEE) so I know she is often a little sleep deprived.

Her favorite thing to do when excited is flop around -HARD- on her knee caps. She might later mumble something about how her "legs feel a little ow-y".


Do I ever find myself concerned? Yes. Do I sometimes feel compassion? Yes, often. But mostly, embarrassingly, I feel angry. Almost every time I hear the thunk/crash/OWIE, MOMMY, I FELL.

I have spent countless hours tending to this precious body of hers: nurturing and wiping and patting and bathing and rocking, not to mention GESTATING WITHIN MY BODILY CONFINES. I confess to feeling a bit resentful that she doesn't treat it with a little more care.

It's as if she doesn't know that I spent the first year of her life in abject terror that something might one day hurt her. Does she not care that I wept big, messy, self-admonishing tears when she, as a new walker, fell and hit her head at the split second I wavered from my never-ending head-bonk monitoring? Doesn't she remember me sobbing for a ridiculously long time when I cut her teeny, tiny perfect fingertip with those blasted baby-nail Scissors of Doom? (Not to mention....)

Where is the gratitude for the hours I've obsessed about the many, many ways she might possibly injure herself and how I could prevent it? (Hint: I'm convinced excessive and imaginative worrying has protective powers.) Where is the recognition for the countless times I averted sharp pointy edges and topple-y changing tables and RAVENOUS RABID WOLVES on her behalf?

(No, she doesn't understand these things. No, she won't appreciate my efforts one bit, at least not until she, maybe, possibly, has kids of her own.)

I know some of this carelessness is an attention getting tactic. E is on the move, sitting up, pulling up, and, of course, bonking her head. It makes sense that Z would regress a bit and need a little care over her own head bonking.

While I am hopeful she'll outgrow this particular floppy, spazzy, careless phase, I realize that it is doomed to be repeated, in many different ways and forms over the next -oh- 48 years. Some if it is just plain old risk-taking. And I know life is about risks. Only those who risk are free BLAH BLAH BLAH.

I want her to take risks. I understand her developmental need to push the boundaries, to literally ram her little body into the confines and structures of her life. I know it is our job as parents to focus our worries on the things that are truly dangerous and ignore the rest. I don't want to hold her back or be cemented in her childhood memories as the fret-er in the corner asking her to Be CAREFUL SWEETIE, JEEEEEZ!

I just wish there weren't so many bruises involved.


(We hope to fly out to Arizona tomorrow, before the next big snow storm. Fingers crossed! Hopefully my next post will be full of saguaro cacti and wide open skies!)


Hillary said...

oh, I completely understand this frustration. The Boy's favorite game lately is to flop around on the couch or the bed, always dangerously close to his "brudder," and then declare himself "stuck." It's mostly harmless, but irritates me to no end because I already spend a great deal of time getting him out of legitimate problems. I don't want to have to deal with a fake one, too.

Good luck getting out of the snow!

miyoko said...

oh you know i've dealt with the clumsyness issue for years now....with face-plant-p.

our dentist jokingly gave me his vacation schedule and listings of local dentists in the area of our summer vacation last year because well, let's just say, P has a knack for falling, on... her... teeth and i mean full on FACE PLANT.

her front teeth have been whacked so hard so many times they are actually damaged, that now when i hear the smack, i feel bad because i find myself saying things like "ARE YOUR TEETH OK?" before asking if SHE is OK. She will be sobbing and i'll say did you land on your TEETH OR YOUR HANDS? OH YOUR HANDS? THEN YOU"LL BE FIIIINE!!! GREAT JOB!!! NICE you'll be just fine in a minute or two" meanwhile the poor girl is in total pain from smacking her hands and knees against the ground.

like Z, the silverware falls, she fidgets and slides of her chair, bowls fall, plates fall, she slides off the toilet, oh this constant fidgeting drives me mad sometimes.

i'm relieved yet again, it's not just P.

Sarah said...

Huh, this makes me feel so much better about my own reactions when my kids seem to almost intentionally injure myself. They'll come running to my for comfort and I just feel this welling annoyance with them for having so little regard for their own safety! But maybe this annoyance is normal after all. I always feel like such a jerk to be mad at them for getting hurt!

Kathi McCracken Dente said...

If it makes you feel any better, I just finished reading "Your Three Year-Old" and they said that three and a half is a particularly clumsy age. I guess the body is between little and big and they haven't quite figured it out yet. And don't kick yourself for being annoyed. M doesn't have this issue, but I find myself reacting to her age appropriate three year old fears the same way. I try to be empathetic, but when she won't join the gym class she has been to for months because she is scared I am probably not as empathetic as I should be.

artemisia said...

Oh, my: "feel a little ow-y". That is a little bit precious.

Gina said...

Is Z right about 3.5? It is bizarre, but it is actually common for kids to have "regressions" of a sort at the 1/2 year points. See:


Those regressions often take the form of clumsiness. In our case we've seen Thomas get clumsy and stutter (verbally) both at 18 months and 2.5 years old. We are approaching 3.5 and it will be interesting to see if it happens again. These regressions are usually the precursor to a big developmental leap so good things are on the way! I have to admit that it makes me sad to see his once perfect little legs all covered in bruises.

Existential Waitress said...

"I'm convinced excessive and imaginative worrying has protective powers" - thank you! I am of the same mind-set, which I have attempted to convey to my husband. Worrying incessantly HAS to be a way to thwart danger. Otherwise, what do we have left?

Marie Green said...

I hope you were able to get outta there! Arizona sounds like heaven right about now.

Also, if one of my older kids trips or something, Marin will IMMEDIATELY "fall" too and demand sympathy and an ice pack. So it's not just the younger sibling that's causing this phenomena!

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Oh thanks ladies! All your comments made me feel so much better.

Kathi and Gina: She IS 3.5 (actually 3.75!) and she's gone through a major physical growth spurt in the last month (suddenly her pants are short, her shoes are tight, etc.) and her conversational skills have made a big leap. Obviously, I need to check out that book!

Kathi McCracken Dente said...

The "Your Three Year Old" book is a good overview of what is normal development for the age and what is age appropriate behavior. It was written in the 80's, so some of the actual advice on what to do about your child's behavior seems dated. The best line comes in a section about the best way to survive 3.5 and it suggests to just "hire a sitter as much as you can". But even with that it was helpful to just "get her" a bit better. They have a book for every age. You might just want to jump into the 4 year old year old book since (gulp!) Z is almost that old.

Astarte said...

They have no regard for our freakish vigilance, and in fact seem to do everything in their little powers to get away from it! If I had a drop of water for every time Patrick has tried to kill himself since he was born, I could fill the freakin Grand Canyon. Sheesh.

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