Tuesday, November 22, 2011

If I'm Rubber, Then You're Glue

Jonas is 2. If you aren't a parent, I'm not sure how much you remember about being 2, but I'm discovering it means you like to climb and jump on EVERYTHING. Jonas started climbing a lot well over a year ago. My solution to this was to take him to the playground as much as possible, sometimes 2-3 times per week.

Yesterday, I went to work at 5:00a.m. like usual. My game plan was to take him to the playground as soon as I got home. Unfortunately, Jonas had other plans. Around 8:00, I get a frantic phone call that he'd fallen flat on his face. Best we could tell, he'd launched himself off the changing table. We had to go to the pediatrician, who wrote him a script for an x-ray, to make sure he hadn't fractured any bones in his face.

I'm a pretty decent problem solver, so my first instinct was to take out the changing table. Problem solved, right? Not so easily, unfortunately. Boy has decided this is his "jumping" phase. Today he's been jumping on his bed instead. Of course I'm going to tell him no. Tell him he could get hurt. But at some point he'll be in his bedroom alone. I can't hover over him every second of the day and night. I also don't want to put his mattress on the floor, it looks like hell.

Meanwhile, my point of writing this blog: I received a phone call from our pediatrician last night with our x-ray results. I should preface this rant by saying I love our pediatrician. She's always wonderful with Jonas, has been from the start. She told me she couldn't see any major fractures, but could not rule out the possibility of a hairline. The tissue in his face was too swollen to tell. She then gave me some helpful instructions, like watching to make sure his behavior doesn't change, waking him periodically to make sure he isn't concussed, etc.

Then, she said this: "I'd like him to be more careful in terms of play. He's taken one too many hits lately. (He fell on Saturday while playing with his buddy Terra. Same thing, climbing) I know he wants to act like a normal kid, but he's not."

At the time, I didn't fully process what she was saying. I understood what she meant: He's a heart baby. The goal is to keep him healthy. But I sat on it last night, and thought about it more today.

YES, he's a heart patient. Of course we need to keep an eye on him. But he's not breakable. I absolutely REFUSE to treat him any differently than I would if he had a whole heart. It's bad enough that he will have limitations later in life that I will have no control over. It is imperative to his development that he not be held back in any way. He is a tough kid, no doubt about it. When he took that hit yesterday, of course he cried. He's 2. I would've cried, and I'm 30. But he got over it so quickly, he was laughing and dancing a couple of hours later like nothing had happened. Why would I rob him of that?

So for now, I'm going to let him be a kid. Jonas will fall, and I guarantee he'll pick himself right back up again. I'm not going to baby or coddle him. I hope he will thank me one day.

Heart moms: Have you been in a similar situation? How did you handle it?


  1. I think all parents...heart baby or not...have felt like they were being judged. Hope had to go to the ER for a dog bite and I felt like the worst mom ever. Our beautiful, friendly, golden had a bone and Hope decided to try and take it. I was close enough to see the whole thing, but I should have known better...before anything happened. My boys are boys and with boys you will get cuts, scrapes, bruises, stitches, hopefully no breaks (but probably will happen). They are both heart healthy and I let them 'live' their lives to the fullest. I let Hope do the same (although I probably baby her a lot more...she is a girl, so it is different anyway). She is much girlier (not really a word) than I am used to, so she doesn't play as rough as the boys and she is not big enough to climb on anything that would hurt for her to jump off.

    Don't fret about letting him live and play and jump. Be happy that he is healthy enough to do it!

  2. Amen and amen! He WILL thank you someday. I feel like so many other heart mamas want to keep their babies in a bubble, preventing any illness and protecting from the tiniest bump or scratch. I agree with your approach: let him be a kid.

    Someone once told me that they didn't go through weeks of ICU after heart surgery to raise a spoiled brat. And it's true - heart babies need discipline just like any other child. Just the same, they need freedom to roam and explore and learn what can hurt them just like any other. Amazing docs saved their lives - so they should be allowed to LIVE!

    As for a response to your pediatrician? Just smile and thank her for the advice. Stop him when you see him doing something that's clearly unsafe. Give him opportunities to jump safely (mini-trampoline under the tree?!). But trust your mama instincts and give him the freedom kids need. Good work.

    (PS - you sound like you might like like the Free Range Parenting blog, which I also love:

  3. Thank you both!
    Jen: We live in a 2-bedroom condo, so something like a trampoline is not doable. We were at a kiddo festival on Saturday and he LOVED the bounce house. Wish I had space for something like that. I will definitely check out the blog, thanks for the recommendation! My mom always trusted me to do age appropriate activities on my own. She raised me to be self-reliant, I intend to do the same with Jonas :)