This boy. He runs and jumps and propels himself through doorways at a speed I am still not used to. The girls, as I’ve said before, could not have been more docile unless I’d smoked way more crack. The girls were laid back; you get my point. This boy. He climbs and reaches and pulls and pushes and lunges. He falls a lot. My nerves are shaky. Maybe it’s from the heroin.
My nerves are so bad that he can climb onto a step stool and I am at the ready to catch him if he missteps. In my mind, he will misstep. And what kind of mother am I if I’m in the kitchen sneaking another two or eight cookies that I told him were all gone when he falls? I’ll be the mother you all condemn because he won’t just fall. That one time that I’m not right beside or behind or within two steps’ reach will be the one time he falls, knocks over a chair that catapults him sideways so that he hits his head on the edge of the too-sharp table, and knocks himself out. And you thought I was such a good mother.
I have gotten better, though. He’s three. I let him fall when he defies me and climbs onto the back of the sofa, then flies down, wearing a cape, calling himself IncrediSpiderBatman. He laughs and does it again. I let him fall when he is running so hard, so hard, so fast, so fast and then his shoes are untied, his chasing sister is upon him and down they go. He laughs and says you can’t get me. I let him fall when his Gangnam style goes awry. I even let him fall when he hops between two dining room chairs and the space between them continues to grow. I let him. I sometimes give him Band-Aids for the imaginary knee scrapes.
And yet. There is one area that I am still all coming off the methadone shaky: stairs.
And it gets better. I’m not just scared of his falling down the stairs, but of the girls, my husband, and myself. I am so paranoid about the stairs that I sometimes count them if it’s late and the lights are off, just so that I know when I’m at the bottom. Sometimes, I miscount and all it takes is me to miss that last step and I’MA DIE. The last time this happened, my husband casually looked at me, one eyebrow arched, “You okay?”
“No. I fell and I just barely kept myself from hitting my forehead on the doorknob, giving myself a severe concussion.” He walked away. Look, y’all. I can’t underestimate a potential concussion. If I die and the findings show I could have been saved with immediate medical attention, look at him because he probably thought I was faking lying on the floor outside of the tub.
When I first had him (OK, each of them) I used to have nightmares about falling down the stairs while holding the baby, LANDING ON THE BABY. Way to go, brain.
I try not to do it, but when he’s near the top of the stairs and he’s running, I grab him. Or, more accurately, I reach out to him like I’m going to grab him but I catch myself, not wanting to scare him. He moves more the other direction anyway, to avoid me, and then his foot gets too close to the top stair. AND THEN MY HEART STOPS BECAUSE HEAD FIRST. ON THE HARDWOOD. HEAD OVER FEET OVER HEAD.
I’m going to be the reason he falls head first down the stairs and needs to go to the emergency room on a Friday night. Do you know what the ER looks like on Friday nights? That’s just selfish.
Then again, maybe he’ll be OK. He’s usually in a helmet anyway.