From the moment she was nine months old and learned to walk, my daughter has been accident-prone. I don’t know why she walked so early; I myself was 14 months before I took my first steps, my brother waited until he was 16 months old. Speed doesn’t run in the family; I guess she was in a hurry to fall off of things.
I vividly remember the first time she hurt herself. We had just moved back to Omaha, when one night she sat on my husband’s lap, and decided to take one of those strange upper body dives. Her forehead slammed against the edge of the dining room table, which made for two spooked parents and one seriously interesting bruise. Little did we know that it was merely the beginning of many years of falling, hitting, and stumbling. Since then, she has burned her hand on an iron, fallen off my in-laws porch (4 stitches!) and had more bruises then I care to count. We’ve had summer days when –in spite of triple digit weather- I’ve refused to dress her in shorts. One time I counted 13 bruises on her legs, potentially sending the message that we pinch her just for fun.
The truth is, my daughter walks into a room as if she is the queen, and the furniture her loyal subjects. The dresser that’s been here for as long as she can remember? Of course it will move of its own accord, doesn’t it see her coming? And why would those toys lie in the middle of the floor? It’s not her fault she trips; it’s the eternal onslaught of things, which don’t put themselves away when they should. She finds her salvation in grammar: “The bed made me fall” as opposed to “I fell over the bed.”
When we found out she badly needed glasses, we were relieved. All of a sudden things made sense. Of course she was stumbling all over the place; she couldn’t see where she was going! We bought her some very cute glasses, and looked forward to a bruise-free existence. I fantasized about all the skirts she could wear, without showing a purple map of South America on her legs. From now on, we reasoned, she could see where the furniture was, and she would walk around them; we could stop stocking up on band-aids.
How wrong we were.
Just like before, she kept bumping into things; just like before, weird loud noises would come from her room. We still found ourselves yelling upstairs: “What on earth are you doing?” approximately five times a day. We finally had to admit: her ‘accidents’ had nothing to do with poor eyesight. Our daughter is simply a natural born Klutz.
Keeping children safe is a challenge; the key is knowing when to panic, and when to relax. Learning to avoid small accidents now might make her more safety-conscious during her teenage years. If you start a dialogue with your child about why some insects are dangerous, and why you shouldn’t put certain toys in your mouth, maybe it won’t be such a big leap to discussing teenage drinking and other exciting things that are ahead. Although, I’d rather not think about that just yet.
Written by Annette Wright