Bumps, Bruises and Scars, Oh My: The Inevitable Toddler Tumbles

Eli at the playgroundThe scariest moment in film history for parents isn’t the creature bursting out of John Hurt’s chest in “Alien” or that hand poking through the cemetery soil in “Carrie.” It’s little Justin Henry falling from the monkey bars in “Kramer vs. Kramer.”

There’s nothing Freddy Krueger can do to top that in terms of sheer parental panic.

That scene started playing in my head as I watched Elijah hug his new skateboard yesterday. The toy came from his beloved cousin, so Elijah already has slept with it and begged us to go skateboarding assoonaspossiblelikerightnowpleasepleaseplease?

He’s normally a cautious fellow, so I’m not too afraid of him targeting the nearest hill and heading down it. The potential for an impromptu trip to the ER still ramped up the moment the skateboard entered our lives. It’s the same feeling I get when I take my eyes off of him at the local playground. Elijah needs to explore on his own, make new friends and push past his comfort zone at the park. That means I let him do all of the above, often while standing far enough away so I can’t catch him if he falls.

But what if he does fall?

My wife often jokes about wrapping Elijah in bubble wrap before he heads out the door to keep the bruises at bay, and darned if I don’t occasionally eyeball the packing material when my latest Amazon order arrives.

The best I can do is help Elijah prepare for the inevitable bruises along the way. That means making him wear the appropriate gear, from knee pads to helmets, every time he heads out with skateboard in hand. It’s also part of a larger learning process I started with Elijah last summer. He loves to play catch with Daddy, be it with a football, softball or any other toy in the backyard. Sometimes he’ll miss my throw and the ball will hit him – hard. He’ll cry, or wince or just show me how unhappy he is with a crumpled frown.

“That’s sports,” I tell him, adding there’s always the chance for new bruises when you play. That shouldn’t stop him from getting in the game. It’s a life lesson I plan on drilling into him, one his gentle nature may not readily accept.

I’ll try to remember it myself now that his new favorite toy has entered our lives.

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