Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Overprotective Dad...

Since my whole life the fall, I've been having issues. I've become a hoverer, casting a shadow of safety over my son as I try to cushion or catch any fall that may or may not be in his path. But I'm only making things worse. My constant looming restricts his movement and things usually end with him throwing a fit when I scoop him up and haul him inside to the wonderful confines of his padded room. 
Of course I'm kidding, there's no padded room. Although Daddy may be checking in to one soon.
I can’t help it. Trust me, I’d love to not be this way. And I completely understand that I cannot protect my son from every fall and scrape. It' s part of the process, the bumps and bruises along the way.  Got it.
Yet I hover.
And my issues aren’t just outdoors. For instance, the other day I saw him wobbling over towards the kitchen table, which is rectangular, which means it has corners.  Enough with the geometry lessons, the point is that I hate corners.
I freaked out, bounding towards him with the delicacy of a blitzing linebacker.  I went to protect his head—the cringe inducing soft spot in particular—when I accidently bumped him with my fingers.  He plopped down, not crying, but looking at me as if to say, What the hell man?
Sorry dude.
I'm trying to let go, remembering I was chewing on rust chips at his age. But still, I keep waiting for the next fall…handing him over to my wife and hunching over like an umpire. Watch the step.  Okay, okay, watch the stick, don’t let him have that, okay there, alright watch him. You’re not watching!
Luckily I was able to duck the chair that came my way.
Over the weekend, we visited my niece to meet her brand new baby.  And no sooner than we entered, I honed in on the glass coffee table and entertainment system, both eyebrow level with my son. I held him close while pretending to have a conversation, nodding through my blurred vision, dry mouth, and tingling limbs, the warning sirens in my head piercing my thoughts. 
In case I haven't been clear, my wife has had enough of this little routine. It was funny at first, me being the overprotective Dad, but like all mental health caregivers will tell you, she needs a break.
So this week, with great reluctance I’ve released him from my grip, letting him walk around freely, belly out and legs wide, barefoot over broken glass, crawling through the splintered wood with rusted nails. I am forcing myself to back off some/a little/barely and let the kid practice walking.  Yesterday he got going a little too fast for my liking and I actually uttered the words. “No running.” 
Do you remember the day when you first realized that you were a grown up? It was kind of weird...
So as much as it kills me, I'm not hovering. I’m watching. I’m close. I’m ready to jump if needed. Just say the word and I'll dive right in.  But for now I'm hanging back, just a bit. Just minding my own--FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WATCH OUT FOR THAT LEAF!!! 
Mr. Cool, that's me.
I want him to be self sufficient. So far so good, when he does fall he gets up and swats away my attempts to help.  But at the same time I don’t want to have the neglected kid. Hmm,  I think we’re safe there.  And lastly, I don’t want to have the kid with the weird dad. 
But I think we’re too late for that….

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