Splitsville: Honey, I Bruised The Kid
Welcome to Splitsville. This weekly column will focus on parenting after a divorce, break-up or one-night stand that didn’t end like a Katherine Heigl movie.
We all know the sinking feeling in your stomach when you watch your child get hurt. There’s an overwhelming panic when they first cry out that’s almost impossible to describe. I’ve never felt anything like it. Whether its a splinter in their foot, a scrape on their knee or a bonk on the head, child injuries are heart-wrenching and terrifying.
The most awful injuries produce large marks for the world to see. A black eye, a bruised cheek, or, Heaven forbid, a cast can make every passerby look at you like an awful person. You take an injured child into the store and people start to stare. Sure, there’s a logical explanation for the boo-boo, but its not like you want to explain it to every person you see. Even if you tried, people would wonder why you’re so defensive.
If its difficult to explain to a stranger how your child was hurt, its near torture to try to tell your ex. In the beginning, even the slightest bruise is suspect. I’m not even sure that separated parents realize that they do it. But the minute we hear that our child was injured, we jump into attack mode.
“Well, how did this happen?”
“Were you with them?”
“Were you paying attention?”
“Did you use Neosporin?”
The underlying question here is, “What were you doing wrong that led to my child getting hurt?” Even though we know that the answer is normally, “Nothing”. Children get hurt all the time. Even the most protective of helicopter-parent can’t keep kids away from every danger out there. At some point in time, our kids are going to trip and fall. They’re going to run into something. They’re going to get hurt. None of us, or even our ex’s, can control that.
It’s difficult to accept that your child got hurt on someone else’s watch. We’re always positive that no one can protect our children like we can. We wouldn’t known that they weren’t ready for the intermediate rock wall yet. We would’ve steered that tipsy toddler away from the coffee table sooner. We would’ve caught them before they fell.
But we know that its not always true. We can’t always prevent everything, and we’re not meant to. Our kids learn from their bumps and bruises. So even though its awful to see your baby in pain, try not to turn all Mama (or Papa) Bear on your ex the next time your little one comes home with a scraped knee. Honestly, it could have happened just as easily at your house. And if your child is anything like mine, it will happen at your house, sooner rather than later. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just the way kids work.
So curb that inner-blame-monster, grab some Neosporin and a Toy Story band-aid, and prepare to pucker up. If nothing else good comes from this, you might get a little post boo-boo cuddle time. Your precious little darling will be just fine, and live to bump another noggin.