One of the most foundational duties of parenthood is protection. There’s an inner, biological impulse that drives us to protect our children to the extent we are able to do so (and really a bit beyond that extent). Of course there are times when, despite this instinctive drive, we fail. And that’s okay — sometimes our children need to endure injuries to learn how to pick themselves back up. Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier to watch happen though. Nothing is worse than seeing your child know they can’t stop disaster from coming and knowing that YOU can’t do anything about it either.
This morning as we were headed to the car, Miles darted out of the garage and shouted, “Super Cat JUMP!” (a favorite phrase from his beloved PJ Masks) as he attempted to leap into the air. Given his general difficulty with jumping, it was a graceless act, and one that ultimately sent him tumbling to the concrete.
That moment, where time seems to pause for just an instant, is the WORST — the look on Miles’s face as he realized he was falling and incapable of stopping it is a still frame burned into my memory. Even harder, I always fight the impulse to dash over to him worried that any overreaction on my part will only make him overreact. Ultimately, I walked over and helped Miles get back to his feet, asked him if he was okay and tried to make a joke. And of course it didn’t work; within seconds Miles was wailing and complaining of his boo-boo (spoilers: he was fine). Ultimately, he rebounded quickly and I was composed and even-keeled.
But man, was it hard to watch in the moment.