Friday, May 29, 2009

Bouncing Babies and Other Screaming Things that Keep Me from Blogging.

My apologies if I've been away since Tuesday (or Monday as I wrote Tuesday's post that day). As it was, I had Saturday and Sunday off, worked 4 hours on the holiday, then had Tuesday and Wednesday off. So I got behind, spent more time with the kids, and enjoyed some of it, even. That and I got the pleasure of patching them up. Thus the following:

One thing that was on my mind (more so than usual due to the war death of my neighbor's (older than me) child) over the last weekend and the bulk of this week was the safety of my children. Being that they are still younglings (a Star Wars term if you've somehow missed it up to now), they are not likely to be in danger in war, or out in another part of the world, or by lightsaber by a shiny new pissed off Sith lord (the fate of Episode III younglings (offscreen unfortunately).
(Skip to 5:10 in the clip for the reference, unless you want to watch the larger body count.)

However, they manage to do plenty of damage to themselves. The tally from the prior 7 days or so is as follows:
1 sickening hit from a child on a swing (wish I had a camera on that one because it reminded me of a brutal football hit)
1 busted up chin (the result of climbing up to get tot the top of the refrigerator)
1 roofing nail in the foot (which meant suffering me and the squeezing and the digging with the peroxide q-tip (I don't care if it hurts))
1 spill on asphalt (not bad, but requires checking and wiping)
2 car doors to the head (because their heads fit and I move fast
And multiple scrapes and bruises that somehow magically appear because they have lots of energy and have yet to develop sense.

And yet, I'm not panicking over anything. In fact, it reminds me of some of my best injuries and scars (still visible today):
I rolled an ATV onto a stone driveway while wearing sweats (that required soaking my whole leg), with a scar still visible on my upper thigh.
I tried to sever the left middle fingertip in an 80-ton ironworker. It doubly sucked as I was learning guitar and the vibrations made me scream.
The other middle finger, my sister slammed in a door. The nail went ping, flew off, and was a mess. The next day I had to take gauze off the mess that remained... one strand at a time.
And my most famous one, the scar on the right side of my face where my dad dropped a machete on me. When people would ask about the scar, I'd say "my dad dropped a machete on my face." In reality, I handed it up to him, the blade was oiled, ouch. Didn't hurt, left a cool scar for decades (can still feel it).

The whole point is that things will inevitably happen with our children, they're going to get hurt. Some of those things we can patch up (and I do it well even if my bedside manner is as blunt as my blog (as in the phrase "suck it up, this will hurt")), and some leave lasting scars. But it is in challenging themselves physically and mentally (and looking like they sleep in sandpaper sheets) that they will grow, learn, and deal with the greater pain that is inevitable for all of us who live.

In a similar vein, I've been letting them explore a little more, especially since one of them is vocal and responsive (and so cute it hurts (she gets it from me)), and the other is becoming a little more responsive and a little less in the shell of a world that is autism. It also helps that we're in a small town and there are plenty of attentive neighbors (although this could also be bad if they're the type that expect helicopter parents).

So far, it's been working out well, even though preschoolers will give you the momentary scare really quickly. But I want them to be Free Range Kids. It's what I was to some degree (although living miles from town made it easier). And my father? Well, if you call shooting .22 rifles in the basement, stoning other kids, lighting tire dumps and fields on fire, and all the other horrible things that a Catholic kid in the 50's-60's can come up with, that is. And I do.

But part of letting them be free range is to teach them to be self-reliant (kind of a big thing in conservatism) and to not do stupid things. For example, both of my kids have gotten burned by the stove. Once. And it's not because they climbed up on a stool when I was not looking, as they have been easily within reach of the burners many times since then (although I'm there when they are and they never are if I'm grease frying (which has been replaced with the beauty of the oven for the most part)).

The fact is that our children will never learn not to make the big mistakes if they never make the small ones, or protect them from the consequences when they do.

And I'll keep reminding myself of this after they hit puberty (I've got most of a decade).


Satyavati devi dasi said...

I'm going to assume for the sake of keeping your ass in one piece that the roofing nail was followed up with a tetanus shot.

Do not even try to claim that peroxide and digging is a reasonable substitute.

I'm not playing.

rockync said...

Patrick - I agree with Saty (now you have two nurses on your ass) on the tetanus shot - you called the doctor, right? If not, DO IT NOW!

On children and teaching them self reliance and responsibility: first, this is not just a conservative thing. I think I pretty much do NOT qualify as a conservative, but my major child-rearing goal was to raise decent, hard working, honest young men who could take care of themselves.
All four have reached that goal so I feel my life will be of merit even if I never accomplish another thing. There's a lot to be said for parents who manage not to turn criminally minded, pustulant toe-rags loose on society.
But, it is a murky swamp of wrong turns and sticky whickets. You don't get a map, either. So you muddle through, make decisions and think, "Oh, crap! I hope this doesn't scar him for life!"
It's quite the balancing act, isn't it? I think the only way we all make it through is with love and some patience. If you love your children and discipline yourself to stop and think through your next action, you will mostly choose the right one. Of course, it doesn't always work that way; sometimes you just react.
I hope all your trimuphs are great ones and your screw ups are small ones.

Patrick M said...

As for the tetanus shot, that's covered in the standard state-required vaccinations (which they've had). Otherwise, I'd have had a needle in her ass (or wherever they stick it), pronto. I have been monitoring it as well and it's healing just fine.

Rocky: Most of us (even you more liberal people) are fairly conservative in how we raise our children, no matter what kind of political goo we fill their heads with.

As for how I'm raising them, I think (and hope) I've made more correct decisions than wrong ones. At the very least, when I tell them they're going to be in trouble if they keep doing something, I follow through. So even if I'm sometimes wrong, at least I'm consistent.

dmarks said...

That Machete scar is cool. You could always say it was from your years as a pirate, or from the time you spent as a Contra fighting the Sandinistas in Latin American jungle.

dmarks said...

This also reminds me of a high school friend who made a Super 8 movie called "Scar Wars". In retrospect, it sounded like a documentary of what you describe here.

rockync said...

Patrick - No matter what you do, it will never be perfect, but there will come a day when your children will appreciate all your efforts.

My husband and I raised our children on a farm in a farming community. Most all their friends lived on farms. It was a safe, close knit environment and I thought it would be a great way to grow up.
At one point in his teen years, one of my middle sons complained that being raised there was a detriment as they "didn't have anything to do." At which point I just threw up my hands and cried, "guilty!"
This same son went on to become a physicist. So, I guess my choice didn't actually leave any lasting scars.
Sometimes, you just can't win! :)

Satyavati devi dasi said...

Each of my parents had a major accident with me before I was two.

I fell while with my mom and knocked out my front teeth (the permanent ones didn't come in until I was NINE because of this).

My dad took me to work with him one day (at a lumber company.. I don't know either) and one of his coworkers dropped a pot of coffee on my leg. I had a scar from my butt to the back of my knee (it had to be opened/drained twice with infections).

When I got older he would have me make him a cup of coffee after dinner. He'd yell at me because I'd only fill it half way and carry it with my arms held totally straight as far away from my body as I could get, or on a tray. He didn't get it.

Today, I do drink coffee, but my oven mitts go to my elbow.

rockync said...

Saty - I don't know if parents realize how traumatic some of those childhood accidents can be.
I fell in an open fire pit when I was a kid and burned the back of my legs. I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. Spent the whole summer on my stomach in a lot of pain.
To this day, I am very cautious of flames.