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Novice Father: Bumps and bruises will happen

Kelly Coffey
newsroom@vaildaily.com
Eagle County CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyKelly Coffey
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EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” My 6-month old daughter has just started sitting up. In the past week it really clicked for her. We prop her up and she stays that way for a good amount of time ” grabbing her toes, looking around, twisting her torso.

Eventually, though, she falls over. Often she falls backward and fly-swatters her head on the ground like a novice snowboarder catching the heel edge.

When she does bang her head like that, it makes my wife and me jump. From day one, we’ve been very careful with her. But I also realize that these are the first of many falls in her childhood. Soon she’ll be walking. Then it’s straight to 720s in the terrain park.



Now I wonder whether or not I should stop her from falling over during her sitting up sessions. Maybe I should let her take a few lumps to get used to a rough and tumble childhood. Should I be a little laissez-faire or go shopping for a giant hamster ball that she’ll fit inside?

My wife and I saw Dr. Foster Cline, child psychiatrist and parenting speaker a handful of years ago when he came to Eagle. The middle school gymnasium was packed with local parents desperate for any tips on how to make parenting easier. The best anecdote I took from that lecture was this: Cline was watching parents and children at an ice skating rink. There he noticed two types of parents. The first type, when their child would fall, would yell: “Johnny, are you okay?” And inevitability Johnny would come crying over to the parents. The other type, when their child fell, would yell: “Kablamo!” And that child would get back up and keep skating.



I see that phenomenon in our daughter. When she bangs her head on the ground she has a very confused look on her face … like she’s not sure what to do next.

Sometimes she cries and I have to pick her up and console her. Sometimes, though, if I say “kablamo!” and play with her legs and smile, she’ll forget the whole incident.

Either way, I don’t like it when she bumps her head. I’ve always been protective of the Kid. The day she was born I had a tough time holding her. I was afraid moving her at all would break something. If I didn’t support her just right, I was sure her head would snap off at the neck and roll under the couch.



The nurses in the maternity ward, well practiced in the durability of babies, had no qualms about folding, rolling, flipping her around flapjack-style. I’ve gotten much better in my six months of fatherhood experience, and lately I’m handling the Kid more like those nurses and less like she was a one-of-a-kind Picasso sculpture made solely from spun sugar (during his later years).

Allowing my daughter to fall, even the short distance from sitting up, is a big leap for me. I’m learning to let go. But it ain’t easy.

Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. Submit comments to cschnell@vaildaily.com.


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