When Adi was just about a year old, I came home to sounds of her laughing hysterically. When I finally found where she and Mike were I flipped out. Mike was holding Adi by her ankles and swinging her back and forth upside down. For some reason, Mike thought it was a good idea to swing a one year old around upside down. For some reason that one year old loved it.
I had visions of whiplash or broken ankles or some other terrible accident. Mike thought I was overreacting. After mentally making the decision to never ever go back to work and install a safety protective bubble around Adi so that she could never be swung around upside down, I finally calmed down. Maybe I was overreacting.
Mike, and from what I hear, fathers in general seem to have this idea that babies and children are durable and don’t break easily. And when kids do get injured, dads don’t flip out like moms do. When Adi was learning how to walk, she fell on her face and chipped her tooth. While I wallowed in terrible mom guilt, Mike acted like it was no big deal. Our pediatrician ( a man) also seemed to think that it wasn’t a big deal. Why do us moms worry more? Is it a maternal thing? Do fathers possess some magic oracle that lets them see into a serious injury free future? Do they just not care about chipped teeth and potential broken bones? Why aren’t you men freaking out?
More recently, Adi was running around the apartment when she fell and conked her head on the side of a table. A goose egg bump appeared on her head and she started screaming. Mike stood there calmly and Googled toddler head bumps and concussion signs while I scooped up Adi, panicked, put on my shoes and tried to figure out if I could perform CPR and hail a gypsy cab simultaneously. At some point during this whole thing, Adi calmed down. After she went to sleep I spent the rest of the night nervously waking her up every hour to make sure she didn’t have a concussion. Mike didn’t wake up once. Turns out I might have been overreacting again.
I’m beginning to come around to the idea that Adi isn’t made of porcelain and that she can take a fall. I have to come around to that idea because Adi’s idea of a good time is trying to play football with the big kids at the park. She also enjoys jumping off of really high things, and getting swung around upside down by her father. At some point I’ll either need to accept her wild tomboy side or cultivate some kind of happy-pill addiction. My insurance doesn’t cover overreaction-induced self medicating (so much for Obamacare) so I’ll just have to take a page from Mike’s man book and act like everything is fine. Because if these fathers are even a little bit right, everything is probably fine.
But could you guys just pretend to be worried, at least? It might prevent shoes from being thrown in your direction. Just saying…
Rachel Figueroa-Levin is a soapmaker, cofounder and educator at Urban Babywearing, a hyperlocal Inwood blogger and organizer, a political/life/religion/parenting satirist, and all around trouble maker. She is also the creator New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Spanish-speaking alter ego @elbloombito. You can reach her via twitter @Jewyorican.