Why didn’t anyone tell me it was going to be so hard watching my kids fall? Maybe it’s one of those ‘understood’ mom secrets that we don’t share with expectant mothers. Like the one about how incredibly horrible that first bowel movement is going to be after childbirth. We never tell pregnant mothers about that, though we really should.
But ever since I watched my oldest son take his first tumble when learning to crawl, I realized that there are no words to describe the way your heart hurts to see your child fall. Watching my kids learn to walk was like torture. I had a friend who bought one of these baby helmets called ‘Baby No Bump’ when her firstborn was learning to walk, and I totally GET it. I joke with my kids now that if I could put a bubble around them, I would.
And yes, I know all the trips, bumps, and bruises are what help our kids learn and grow…blah blah blah. But the reality is, it’s hard to watch them get hurt! So when my 5-year old asked for a bike for his 6th Birthday, my heart sank a little. I had a bike when I was his age. I fell a LOT. And we had a gravel drive-way growing up so when I fell, it wasn’t pretty. At the time, I loaded up on knee pads, elbow pads, helmet, and everything possible to cushion those inevitable falls, but there’s no real way to cushion your heart as a parent.
So do you know what I do when I fear my kids are going to fall? I break out the training wheels. In the case of the bike, I broke out literal training wheels. We had tried one of those balance bikes but it ended up being discouraging for our son. He wanted the real thing with the pedals. But bless his heart, he had no balance. This kid had spent his first five years busting every knee, elbow, chin, and any other body part that got between him and a hard object. So on his 6th Birthday he got his first real bike, with training wheels. Sure he still falls sometimes with them, but it gives just enough support to make the blow not as bad and encourages him to get back on it and try again.
When I take my boys to the roller-skating rink, I get them the ‘training skates’ with the extra big brake on the back. But it’s still so hard to watch them laughing and smiling one second, skating around me in circles, then flailing their arms while they crash down onto the hard floor. I can’t always catch them, I know that won’t help them learn their balance. But a little help along the way isn’t bad, right?
I know the biggest struggles are yet to come. These boys are just getting bigger and braver each day, wanting to try new things, making themselves vulnerable to inevitable ‘boo boo’s’ that I can’t possibly kiss away. I guess since I can’t put training wheels on everything they do in life, I’m going to have to let my own heart get stronger and ‘toughen up’ with each of their falls. I don’t think it will ever stop hurting to see them hurt, and that’s okay with me. I’ll put on my brave ‘mom smile’, thumbs up, and then go sob into my husbands’ shoulder later.
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, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.