Mr. December is the “fun” parent. He loves running around with the kids, roughhousing, and playing pretend. Play is totally one of his parenting superpowers.
I prefer to sit on the sidelines. Partly because playing pretend makes me feel like my brain is leaking out of my ears, but also because roughhousing
usually inevitably ends with me getting hurt.
And yet I let myself be drawn into it. Mr. December and the kids will be laughing, tumbling around, and having a grand time; Then I’ll get a text that says, “Come join us?” Or he’ll call out, “Why don’t you come and play?” and then the children will start clamoring for me to join the game. It’s flattering, but I really need to learn to withstand the flattery lest I end up injured.
It’s a fine line I’m walking. On one hand, I want my kids to be bold and resilient; I want them to try things and do things and persist. I want them to have grit. Rightly or wrongly, I don’t feel like I’m modeling grit when I opt out of things like roughhousing or family hikes. I know that I’m doing it for the right reasons, but I don’t know whether they see it that way. On the other hand, I’m modelling self-care and limit setting. Right?
At least the injuries I sustain while playing with them are visible, which makes it easier for me to feel like the kids understand. Like the time E watched as a branch fell on my head, aggravating my concussion; or like every time I join them wrestling on the bed and then someone’s (very hard) skull connects with some part of my body; or like what happened tonight.
We rode our bikes to a nearby park. I gamely played “The Floor is Lava: Special Rules,” with my special rule being that my shoes were magically lava-proof (for those who don’t know the game, my special rule meant that I could just stand around and do nothing.) Then Mr. December and I called for everyone to join a family huddle so we could decide what to do next.
I don’t know how it happened. One minute I was standing there, waiting for everyone to gather, and the next I was falling to the ground, sandwiched between two of my kids. Thank goodness the ground there is covered in wood chips; I would have been much more scraped up if I’d fallen on a hard surface. I got up and wiped away the blood oozing from a scrape near my knee.
And then the ache started. I can only surmise that I fell pretty hard, onto both my arms and my right leg. It’s all hurting right now—not excruciatingly, but I’m definitely aware of the pain.
I’m promising myself that next time I will stay at least six feet away from my family when they’ve been playing. I just never know when the game will start up again with me at it’s centre. And when it does, I’ll be the one who gets hurt. It happens every single time.