Today I am happy because I let my kid fall. Both boys are rolling, but Wagner’s the one for whom rolling has become a mode of transportation. Toy out of reach? He knows he can roll toward it. Brother’s foot smacking him in the face? He knows he can roll away from it. Tired of being on the blanket on the floor? He knows he can roll off of it onto greener pastures. He reminds me of that meatball that rolls out the front door.
But sometimes it isn’t greener on the other side of the blanket. Sometimes it’s hardwood. The first time he rolled, at breakneck baby speed, off the blanket (toward a particularly angular object, to boot), my foot jutted out to cushion the blow. But the next time he rolled off the blanket, I just watched. And, as one would expect, he smacked his head on the floor and cried very hard.*
* I actually did not expect this. Chiara was (is) famous for smacking her noggin loud and proud and not noticing. So I thought that was just something my offspring can do: hit their heads and not notice. I was wrong.
But then an amazing thing happened. He learned how to protect himself. He doesn’t do it when he’s rolling on the bed or on the blanket, but when he’s rolling on the hardwood floor, Wagner rolls at normal speed onto his side, stops himself precariously balanced on his baby fat, and then rolls veeeeeeeeeeeeereeeeeeey slowly—he even squeezes his eyes shut—onto his back so that he doesn’t hit his head. Not bad for not quite six months (adjusted, of course, chronologically he’s nine months).
It’s amazing to watch. Even better, it’s intentional. This morning I watched Wagner roll to the left from back to tummy and then back to the right from back to his tummy over and over and over for about fifteen minutes. Each time he stopped himself just before his head was going to bang on the floor and eased himself down. And then he giggled hysterically.
The urge to protect our children is primal (and that’s good) but sometimes we take it too far and in preventing them for getting hurt, we actually keep them from learning.
And we keep ourselves from learning, too. Today my child taught me that he knows a little something about cause and effect and intentional action. He demonstrated that he knows he can control his destiny. Today—rolling! Tomorrow—Harvard!**
I can’t wait to let him fall again tomorrow.
** I’m still a little chaffed about this so I will remind everyone that one of the first doctors we saw when we found out we were pregnant with mono-mono twins insinuated that preemies born before twenty-seven weeks would likely be retarded. Twenty-seven weeks was, in her estimation, the cut-off point to expect that the preemie might be smart enough to get into Harvard. (Leaving no lee-way between genius and irretrievably stupid) Our boys were born at twenty-five weeks, which puts them in the “wool-cap-delivering-for-the-florist” category”*** I know I’m supposed to be in this gratitude phase, but I still have it out for this doctor.
*** name the movie. I’ll give you hints if you want them