My daughter suffered a concussion Sunday. She’s three. She was jumping in a trampoline. One she had happily jumped in several times before. She bounced backwards through the door of the protective netting and three feet down to the cement below. She landed flat on her back hitting the back of her head.
As my family was informing me of the signs of a concussion, she vomited in my lap. As we rushed her to the hospital, I had a hard time keeping her awake. Her speech was slurred, her eyes weren’t focusing and kept rolling to the back of her head. She snarled at me to leave her alone. I had to confront the deep seated fear of losing my daughter. I screamed for the umpteenth time, “Eyes open!” with tears rolling down my cheeks.
She is fine now. Definitely a concussion. But CT and x-rays show no signs of danger. She didn’t even have a headache the next day. I, on the other hand, have not quite recovered. I find myself watching her like a hawk. Telling her not to run, jump, or hop around (like she always has before) in fear she will hit her head again. Brain damage is no joke. The doctor said 3 days of calm activity- but will I relax after that?
I don’t feel guilty that she got hurt, but I never want to be that scared again. And, somehow, I know I will be. So where is the line? The line between protecting my daughter from herself and letting her be herself. It’s the difference between over protective and negligent- smothering her and letting her flourish. Where is the middle ground?
Have you ever grappled with this conundrum? It seems to me a problem that must be solved, yet has no solution.
I remember walking home from school starting in first grade. It was normally with my brother, who is 2 years older. But at some point, which is fuzzy in my memory, I was walking alone.
I remember making friends easily in first grade. One in particular, a girl who lived around the corner from me. We had fun. One night in third grade during a sleepover at her house, holding our Cabbage Patch Kids, we dialed 0 on the telephone and sang “Operator, Operator, on the line . . .” to whoever answered. Those were good times. But one day I went to her house to play and she said, “I’m not your friend anymore. Go home!” I demanded to know why. She couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me. Her brother, a professional BMX bicycle rider, chased me home- on his bike while I ran.
Years later (junior high age) I was walking home alone as usual. Walking, as I did, with my head down- watching my feet. I was just about to turn the last corner approaching my house when some people turned the corner walking toward me in the opposite direction. When our paths crossed, I heard a vaguely familiar laugh. As I looked up, the friend who had rejected me years earlier spit in my face.
I realized then, that walking with my head down prevented me from seeing what was aiming at me. I have walked with my head up ever since. Ready to face whatever is coming in my direction head on. Or should I say- head up?
I wonder what would have happened if I had looked her in the eye when she turned that corner. If I had the appearance of confidence rather than the hung head of the rejected.
I remember being self-conscious about how I walked. Imagined people looking and judging how my feet and legs moved and how my shoulders swayed. Judging my personality by watching my movements. I recall, walking home from school, being told that I walked like a horse. My foot swinging out and forward in an arch with a CLOMP as my foot hit the ground (rather than the heel to toe motion normal people have). I consciously tried to place my feet properly, only adding awkwardness to the whole experience.
Today my feet hurt. I have blisters on the back of my heels from ill-fitting shoes. Over the years of purposeful foot placement I have come to realize that I have a twist in my step (along with that CLOMP). It dawned on me today that these things are cause and effect. It’s the twist that causes the shoe to rub. It’s an attempt to prevent the rub causing me to CLOMP- walking with the weight on my toes so I don’t press the red raw heel to the back of the shoe. Now I get it! I do walk like a horse!
Instead of being hyper aware of my awkward walk. I should have embraced the twist in my step. It should have been my signature sway. Something to own. Not to be ashamed of. Then the comments wouldn’t have been painful memories. They might have been inspiration for laughter and fond memories.
Do you wish you could override your memories and turn them into what they should have been? Can we? Should we?