I awoke this morning (it was indeed morning- 4:27, to be exact) to my wife's poking fingers jabbing my kneecap. This was a new one, I thought; she must be really tired if she can't move her hands to pound my shoulders.
She muttered something about Jay and an ow-ee, then said, "It's too early. WAY too early." I wasn't sure what to make of any of that, but Jay was fussing and maybe crying. I got up and used the bathroom -once I get into his room, there is no telling how long it will be before I can get back out. And, who among us gets up at 4:30 and doesn't need to go? I mean, really. I used the bathroom right outside his door, and I expected him to hear me and start calling for me. Daaaaaaaaaaaddeeeee...
To my amazement, the fussing stopped almost instantly. Was he up and waiting for me? No, his fussing stayed stopped, and his room remained silent. Almost too silent. Almost.
I expected to hear from him soon, so I walked into the living room and half-dozed in the rocking chair. As much as I tried to sleep, my mind kept wanting to process the sudden stop of his pleadings, and Laura's half-asleep comment about an ow-ee. Was he okay? I knew he was, my intuition told me so, uncommon things happen uncommonly. And my mind kept replaying a story I had heard a few years back about a couple whose son died overnight of something mysterious. No explanation was ever found.
I'm good enough at recognizing irrational fears that I can work my way through them, for the most part. My years in mountaineering helped me to develop a cool and objective approach to most things. That life experience is part of why I stayed in the rocker. That, and the mileage those experiences put upon my body. I was pooped, he was very likely just fine, and the father in me wrestled with the risk-managing climber for nearly two hours. The sun was rising, dawn was breaking, even at 4:30 am this time of the year, so to go into his room would mean he would be up and the day would start for everyone in the house.
At nearly 6:30 he woke up, and I went in to greet him. He smiled. "Hi Daddy!" It's the best way to start a day, period.
Then he reached for the back of his head and gave a bit of a grimace.
"Daddy, my head fell off."
Ummmmm, okay, you have my complete attention.You already did, but now I'd LOVE to hear more.
"Your head fell off?"
"Yeah, Daddy, my head fell off."
Did it hurt?
How did you do it?
"I don't know!"
I'm sure glad you got it back on! That would be quite a mess! Are you okay now?
"My eyes are burning!!!!!"
Wow, this little dude is off to a rough start. The sun had peaked over the horizon and was now streaming into this room. I shielded him from the sun with my body, and moved him over to the changing table.
Let's change your diaper and go say hi to mom.
We got dressed and went out to greet the day.
He screeched like a scorched vampire as we entered the main living area of the house. We doused hid pain with a cup of cold milk and some hugs. Laura held him, and he reached for the back of his head again. "OUCH Mommy!"
She looked, and found a good-sized knot at the base of his skull along with a slightly bloody scab. Damn.
His head really DID fall off. Or at least, it probably felt like it.
It's likely that he woke up, tried to stand up while he was still groggy, and fell back and hit his head. I slept through all of that, since my deaf right ear was up and the good ear was happily buried in a soft pillow.
Laura cleaned him up, and we looked him over to make sure he had no signs of trouble- walking straight, talking well, giving us shit for bad parenting:
Check, check, and double check.
As the day went on, Laura and Jay went about play dates and their own happy social calendar while I finished up the second day leading an equine photography workshop.
That evening we had dinner, gave Jay a bath, and stayed up a bit after dressing him in his jammies for bed. He was busy enjoying some of his new toys from the town-wide yard sale on Saturday. After a bit he looked up and said,
"My toes fell off."
Indeed his toes had fallen off. Or, more accurately, his feet came out of the footies in his pajamas. You know, fell off.
Neither Laura nor I rushed to reattach his toes; like this morning it's best, I think, to let him sort these things out. Having amassed many years as an experiential educator, I know that rushing in to fix fallen-off heads and toes would deaden his learning process. I'm proud that my two-and-a-half-year-old can now re-affix both his head AND his toes, when necessary.
I'm struggling to turn off the incessant thwack-thwack-thwack of my helicopter parenting. He's got this stuff. I just need to stay out of the way.
And with that it seemed time to end a slightly anxiety-filled but perfectly-balanced day at our house. We finished as we finish every day: milk, books, music, heads and toes firmly attached (or reattached, as necessary).