Every night my sons and my husband engage in an epic wrestling match, and it never fails to result in tears. I mean, EVERY NIGHT they do this. And the boys BEG for it. Even though it always ends up with someone crying over their bumped head.
(Did I mention the EVERY SINGLE NIGHT part?)
My 5-year-old looks forward to this moment of ultra-violence so much he starts hovering around me as soon as dinner's over. "You, um, going to the gym tonight, Mom?" he asks casually. "Going to the grocery store, maybe?"
He knows exactly how much I hate Wrestling Time and so his entire M.O. is to get me out of the house in the evening so he can enjoy the luxurious privilege of sustaining a painful head injury.
This behavior, while annoying (hustle ME out of my own house, will you? I'll show YOU, son! I'm not going anywhere, and—wait, this is backfiring), has been making me feel better about a few less than stellar parenting moments that have happened throughout the years.
It just makes me relieved, somehow, to know that during all those times I was so freaked out about accidentally hurting him, he was on his way to becoming a kid who LIVES for the opportunity of cracking his skull into a chair leg. His brother has turned out to be the exact same way, and frankly I have no idea how we've made it over five years without obtaining a frequent-flier ER card.
I think the first time I thought I'd broken my first son was when he was a tiny infant and I bonked his soft, terrifying, vaguely-pulsating fontanelle directly on the trim of a doorway. He didn't even squawk, poor thing, but I was briefly convinced I'd forever ruined his ability to perform such brain-based activities as ... well, everything.
I also dropped him more than once from a non-trivial height, trying to carry out that delicate maneuver of getting a baby over the raised crib bar and onto the mattress without waking him up. You know, the thing where you biff your elbow into the top of the bar and dump your delicate infant onto their FACE like a sack of potatoes? (Just me?)
My second son fared no better. He once went toppling out of a carseat I had placed on a table and turned away from for ONE NANOSECOND, right onto the hardwood floor. Oh, and there was the time his brother pushed him, stroller and all, out the front door, down the steps, and ass-over-teakettle onto the cement walkway.
This one's particularly awful to confess, but once I went in to check on my younger son during naptime and he was rolling around in his crib, utterly delighted with the video monitor cord he'd managed to pull off the wall and wind around his entire body.
I tell you these things not to invite a phone call or two from Protective Services, but to offer hope to any new mamas who live in a constant state of fear about their children's safety. Mistakes may happen, my friend, and you will feel like a steaming pile of dogshit. But take heart: someday your children, whose heads you swore to protect from all injuries, will beg and plead and cajole for the chance to wrestle wildly on the floor for the apparent EXPRESS PURPOSE of causing themselves pain.
They will weep copious tears, then scrub a small fist across their wet cheeks and ask for more. There's no sense to it, parents, and there's something oddly soothing about that.