You fell off the sofa tonight onto the wood floor. Your mom had just propped you up in the corner and stepped away for a moment -- as we have done dozens of times before -- when we heard you land with a thud.
We later agreed It was the worst sound we've ever heard. We both knew right away what it meant.
We raced to you and I arrived first to find you face down between the coffee table and the couch, bawling. I was already saying "You're OK. You're OK. You're OK." as I reached for you, but the truth is I was terrified about what you were going to look like when I turned you over. Bruised? Bleeding? Dented?
It's too gut wrenching to wonder any further about how bad it "could" have been. You're OK. You bawled for less than a minute and then we had you calmed down. It took a little longer for us.
For her part, your mom felt awful. Holding back tears, she kept apologizing to you, to me, to you again... keep in mind this is not a woman who is given to wearing her emotions on her sleeve. I guess she kind of likes you. I tried to reassure her that it could have just as easily been me who put you there before you fell. It's not like she was doing something where she should have known better; Hell, I probably put you in the exact same position 2 or 3 times earlier today without incident.
That's why it was so crazy that it happened. You're not even mobile: how the heck could you have traveled all the way to the edge of the sofa? A little later, out of curiosity we put you back in the same propped-up position. Within seconds you reached forward for one of your feet, morphed into a perfect little baby ball and executed a startlingly efficient shoulder roll. At least we were there to catch you this time.
We quickly started noting all the things we couldn't do (or not do) anymore to keep this from happening again. In one way it was lucky: your warning tumble "wake up call" for mom and dad could have been a lot worse; We've learned something important and you don't seem much worse for wear.
Now, I fully accept that you're going to get hurt sometimes. I never deluded myself into thinking I would somehow manage to prevent harm from ever coming to you. I'm also a firm subscriber to the "We need to fall down sometimes so we can learn how to get back up" philosophy. But I had 2 hopes for when you did eventually get hurt (1) That we wouldn't be somehow responsible, and (2) That when it happened I would be the one with the attitude, "Aw, he's OK. He'll go through worse. No worries."
Fail on both accounts, I suppose. Turns out I'm not that guy. I was seriously freaked out when I heard you fall. I was actually on the verge of tears when I reached you and saw you lying there.
The haunting thought I keep coming back to is, "How am I going to do this? How am I going to live my life and let you live yours without constantly fearing for your health and safety? How am I going to become the reassuring foundation in our little family that I want to be?"
You will have many more falls and bumps and knocks (hopefully
not due to our negligence!) as you
grow into the little boy and then the man you will become. I can only hope I'll grow and develop with you and get better at dealing with it.
Stay at Home Dad Lesson #117:
When a 5 month old reaches for his feet from a sitting position he creates a perfect sphere that is capable of travel.