Baby Harbat took a spill this weekend. We were at the aquarium and she was Very Excited by all the fish. She took off down a concrete ramp outside, running full speed. I’ve never seen her feet that high off the ground—she runs like she’s goose stepping, though I would too if I was wearing a huge diaper and shoes two sizes too big. But she didn’t fall! See, you thought you knew what was coming. Then she climbed up on the rocks by the tidepool exhibit, and jumped down. Still okay. Then she missed a step and cushioned the landing with her eye and cheekbone. Lots of tears, and abraded skin. I thought for sure she’d get a black eye but it turned into several red smears and scabs. This was her first big fall, besides the lip-cutting incident. She was fine, and up to dangerous shenanigans a few minutes later. The next day, she hit her head on the edge of the table, then did it two more times. As a parent, you gasp, lunge, and console, then repeat until you have severe heart fibrillation.
On Sunday we went to the playground and BH went right for the tall spiral slide. This playground was not our neighborhood regular, it was one down in Balboa Park. The slide in the middle is like the tower of Babylon, and the ship’s ladder leading to the top was like something a Sherpa might have trouble climbing. The slide launch platform was sheathed in clouds. Oh good, time for a daddy heart attack. BH set to climbing, and was soon at the top, far enough from my reach that I couldn’t stand on the ground and reach her. Two options: follow her up the ladder and just miss her as she falls backwards down the spiral slide of death, or wait at the top of the slide to help her down, and watch her as she falls backwards down the stairs. So she chose to stick her head through the bars at the top and laugh, then gently sit down and wait for me to help her down the slide. Heart attack averted until she went up the ladder again, then turned and lunged for the top stair while holding herself back on the railing. Ha ha! Daddy, why aren’t you laughing? Why is there blood coming out your ears and nose?
I suppose I am a hoverer. “Helicopter parenting”, the books call it. Well, sue me, I don’t want to stand by while my precious daughter tumbles into a snake-filled ravine just so she can have a “learning experience.” Maybe I’m a Coast guard helicopter, ready to intervene when necessary. I won’t be there to catch her every time—I was standing right next to her when she face-planted this weekend. This is the Chinese Handcuff of parenting. The harder you work to protect, the more likely they are to hurt themselves. She doesn’t seem like a risk-taker, and appears to have a healthy respect for heights and whirling razor-things. Still. I’ll try to be there for the big falls. And maybe we can rope ourselves together when we go back to the tall slide. Do they make toddler crampons?