Little kids have much more strength than we adults think.
That could be perceived as their resilience, regarding their ability to bounce back from injury or illness in short order, or it could be referencing their brute nature.
In this case, I’m not going overly intuitive on you. I’m simply referring to their physical strength and it’s fresh on mind today after taking a good beating over the weekend from both my sons, Beckett, 2 (almost 3), and Carson (17 months).
I consider myself an expert on this topic, as I have been on the business end of countless elbows, head butts, kicks, forearm shivers and knees over the last few years, and it all boils down to my kids not being aware of their own strength.
While most incidents are unintentional and a result of some roughhousing, sparked usually by me, some of these blows have left me a little dazed, at times.
The trick here is not letting on to the kids that I’m hurt because that scares them and inevitably leads to tears. That’s when I find myself trying to comfort them, letting them know their dad’s just fine, while dealing privately with the consequences of whatever they delivered.
However, there’s a balance that needs to be kept in mind as well and teaching opportunities abound when these situations arise.
It’s one thing for Beckett to intentionally kick me in the ribs with both feet when I’m putting him in his pajamas and another thing when we are playing on the trampoline and he accidentally lands a knee to my nose during a bounce session.
The same goes for Carson, who mistakenly bumped me hard in the chin the other night with his head as we were crawling around on the floor. That’s an accident, of course, but it’s another matter altogether when he kicks me in the head trying to wiggle free on the changing table.
Either way, the lesson I have learned the hard way is not to underestimate these kids. They are getting bigger and stronger and more reckless, and they have a will that when tested often results in an exertion of physical frustration. It’s not always mean spirited, of course, but it can be painful nonetheless.
There are times when Beckett particularly gets super excited and he loses track of all reality. That’s when I have to be in alert mode.
For example, here’s a situation from the other night to illustrate the point.
While drying off Carson from his bath (I had already let his brother loose from the tub), Beckett ran headfirst into me in the most sensitive of areas because he was upset the bath had come to end before he wanted.
It was a scene to remember. Beckett was angry because he didn’t get what he wanted. When that happens, he has been known to display his emotions through a temper tantrum that can turn incredibly nasty. That’s exactly what happened on this night.
At the same time, Carson, equally agitated over bath time ending, made his distaste known by turning red, sticking out his bottom lip and crying.
Fortunately, I could, and had to, just ignore Carson wailing in my arms, as his brother’s misbehavior was much more intense and required immediate attention, for its unpredictable and random.
This was one of those moments when, as a parent I didn’t want him to get too scared because he temporarily hurt his dad, but I needed to somehow let him know physical outbursts like that are entirely unacceptable.
What unfolded from there should be on a video somewhere. In the bathroom, I was holding Carson with one arm and grabbing onto Beckett with the other, so he didn’t flee the scene and try to hide (an option he resorts to occasionally when he knows he’s misbehaved). All the while, hunched over from the devastating blow of my oldest son’s head butt, I was doing my best to keep my composure and not reveal the nausea I was feeling.
When I finally got the kids back to their bedrooms, I found myself on a bended knee again, telling Beckett how head butting is just like hitting and is not acceptable. This was another one of those moments when I thought to myself I can’t believe I just said that.
A few minutes later, just to make sure he was listening, I asked him why Daddy was upset with him.
“Because I took my head and banged it into Daddy while he was holding Carson,” he said.
Later, I began to wonder if the true message was actually received or if he purely thinks he is not permitted to head butt me when I’m holding his brother.
I’m sure I will find out soon enough, and in the meantime I’m hoping for the best in the defensive position.
Beckett says some of the funniest things ever, and I wish I was writing them all down.
Fortunately, this column does give me an opportunity to preserve some of these hilarious comments on paper.
One of my favorite comments of late is when Beckett says, “Daddy’s the boss.”
I get a huge kick out of that, but not as much as my wife does. It’s interesting that she laughs much harder than I do, for some reason, when she hears him say it.
That makes me wonder if there’s something I’m not getting.