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HomeBlogMommy DazeDealing with rough play — Mommy Daze

Dealing with rough play — Mommy Daze

It was a scenario I am quite familiar with. My two toddler boys wanted to play more roughly than my doting motherly instinct wanted them to. My 4-year-old, James, had procured a wrapping paper tube and was reenacting a sword fight scene from his favorite show, “Jake and the Neverland Pirates.” My 2-year-old, Luke, was unarmed but playing along enthusiastically with his brother. As I watched the scene unfold, I struggled with how long to let them play like that.

RoughPlayMaybe it’s because I grew up the youngest of three girls. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had any major injuries and am afraid I won’t know how to handle it when my kids get hurt. Maybe it’s because I’m a control freak who doesn’t like chaos. Or maybe it’s just because I’m a mom and the majority of my daily vocabulary includes “be careful,” “slow down,” “don’t touch that,” and “get down! carefully.” Whatever the reason, I’ve been struggling with how to let my boys be boys and just play the way they want to play. I get all wrapped up in my head with thoughts of “What if they hurt each other?” or “They’re going to get too wound up” or “Why can’t we just sit and color?”

So on this particular day, I decided to not be a fuddy duddy anymore. As James was chasing his little brother with the wrapping paper tube, I jumped in and handed Luke a paper towel tube and gave him some fencing pointers. They danced around the kitchen, bonking each other to their heart’s content, flip-flopping between giggling and screaming.

Now and then one of them would clobber the other one too hard, eliciting some crocodile tears, but then would gleefully resume the fight. I snapped a few pictures of them to remind myself that it’s okay to let them play roughly. This felt good. I was keeping an eye on things just in case James took it too far (as he usually does), and needed reminding that there’s a difference between play fighting and all out hitting. But nothing terrible happened. Well, not until later.

Like it usually does with toddlers, this new found game went on and on all day long. Everything was becoming a sword. And then it happened. The inevitable accident. And it truly was an accident — my husband and I saw the whole thing. James sword of choice was a plastic pincher/grabber stick toy with a polar bear head on the end. I was about to suggest that the plastic stick was not a good sword choice, but as Luke was fighting him off valiantly with his paper towel tube, he turned just the wrong way at just the wrong time and got knocked over the head by James’ stick toy.

It sounded awful. James was mortified, apologizing over and over, Luke was wailing. I swooped in for a consoling hug and possibly a kiss to the boo boo, but when I pulled my hand away from his head and saw blood gushing everywhere, a new plan was in order. Suddenly all the fears had come true. They had played too roughly and someone got hurt. Luckily my husband is pretty knowledgeable on wound care (probably from the skateboarding days of his youth) and went right to work cleaning out the gash on Luke’s head and gauging how deep it was. A phone-call to the pediatrician’s office and some text messages with my Nurse Practitioner sister-in-law, and it was decided he wouldn’t need stitches. Phew.

James ended up needing more consoling than our little patient, as he was very shook up from seeing all the blood on his brother. We spent a lot of time reassuring him that accidents happen, and I think it was more for me to hear than my kids. I needed to remember that I can’t put them in bubbles. As hard as I try to anticipate every inevitable accident, I can’t keep them from harm every second of the day.

Ouch, that one is a tough pill to swallow. I’m the mommy, I’m the fixer, but sometimes I’m also the Neosporin-applying, bandage-wrapping, tear-wiping coach who is going to let them jump back in the game. Well, as soon as we do some coloring first to calm everyone down.

Click here to read more Mommy Daze.

Watts edited W

Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 4-year-old James and 2-year-old Luke.

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