Tyler likes to crawl. I would assume this is the case because it’s the only skill set he has in regards to mobility right now. Until he learns the finer details of bipedalism – balance comes to mind – I am forced to get down to “his level” when we play together.
A couple weeks ago, while on the floor and playing with Tyler, a mischievous little smile danced across his face. Luckily, those looks don’t instill fear in me. Yet. I’m sure the day will come where I’ll find myself in fear of what he had planned or already done. For now though, I had time to register mild curiosity before Tyler charged across the floor and bonked me in the head with his own. I am really not sure who was more amused over the event between the two of us. I said “BONK” while he laughed. Then he gave me that look again. Tyler rocked forward and thumped me again.
”BONK”, I gleefully reported back.
I backed away a few feet, hunkered down on all fours and echoed Tyler’s sly smile. His smile grew larger with each thump, thump, thump of his hands as they marched across the floor towards me.
We played this spin of “cat and mouse” that Tyler developed for about six or seven more BONKs. The light splashed across Tyler’s face just right and I noticed around ten red marks on his forehead. I checked the mirror to see that I had a similar pattern of marks on my forehead. For fear of giving Tyler brain damage, or him doing the same to me, I had to halt the game for the evening. We’ve played this game a few more times – actually, just about every day since the first – and he’s been BONKing me harder and harder each time. Thankfully, I can stop short of saying that it’s painful, but the boy definitely likes to BONK.
A few days ago, I was videotaping some of Tyler’s activities (which I’ll share very soon) when he saw the camcorder on the tripod. Just as I released the camcorder from it, Tyler grabbed the tripod, pulled it over, and BONKed himself real good in the head. Good enough to make him cry. I believe his tears were alligator tears and while I’m sure he was shocked, there’s no way it hurt him based on how hard he had previously been BONKing me in the head.
Yesterday, we were all sitting on the couch. I can sometimes get quite animated when I tell stories to people. I was telling Sarah something about Tyler and stood up while doing all sorts of hand motions to better emphasize my point. Tyler was sitting on the couch, facing the back of it and grabbed for Sarah’s phone. In the split second that we both had our attention diverted, he leaned back. Since he was facing the wrong way, he had nothing to lean back against, aside from air. Unfortunately for everyone involved, air can be displaced quite easily and provides little to no resistance. Imagine a scuba diver who just falls backwards off a boat into the water. Except the water is a floor, the scuba diver is an eight month old baby, and the boat is a couch that is a few feet above sea level. The sound of his head BONKing on the floor stopped my heart cold.
When Tyler hits his head, or gets smacked in the face by Delilah’s tail, a few things happen. First, I try to evaluate the situation and decide whether the incident would likely hurt an eight month old baby or not. Then, I purposely blank my face and look at him indifferently. If he starts crying and I’ve decided that it probably did hurt him, I pick him up and comfort him. If he cries and I’ve decided that – without a doubt – it did not hurt, I tell him, “That didn’t hurt baby boy.” If I’ve decided that it did hurt but he doesn’t cry, I modify my standards for Tyler’s pain threshold, and pretend nothing happened.
I was absolutely certain that this hurt Tyler.
In the times that I’ve observed Tyler with his fake tears and with his real tears, I’ve found that I can judge when he is legitimately hurt about 95% of the time. If he just starts yelling and crying, he’s probably faking it. He did not just yell and cry this time. He did the other thing; the thing that tells me he is really hurt.
It starts with no sound at all. First, he draws his lower lip up and pushes the corners down, into an open-mouthed frown. Then he pushes his bottom lip out into the common “pout” look. After this, he will then take a few hitching breathes while he opens and closes his mouth, ever so slightly, in time with the hitches. At this point, the cries will begin. That pouty face is the signal that he isn’t faking. I know that he’ll soon realize the power behind the pouty look, but I can definitely use it to my advantage for the time being.
Bumps, thumps, bonks, cracks, smacks. All this and no worse for the wear. This parenting this isn’t so bad.