Dear Atticus, bumps and bruises

Dear Atticus,

I wanted to take this week to focus on a few memories of the past year: that kick that meant so much to me, the way all those UNC fans smiled at me when I was nursing you. But I’m going to interrupt the flow of memories to tell you about something that happened yesterday.

You had your first incident report!

You have a special talent for moving furniture, Atticus. You slide chairs around the floor, pushing them until you get where you want to go. You won’t use a walker; you only want furniture. At school, I sometimes see you on the camera moving the beds around, walking with them and wreaking havoc. In fact, I was watching you do that yesterday. I stepped away from the camera before I could see you fall on your face. You’ve got quite a bruise there.

First Bruise

You play hard, Atticus. You are in constant motion, and it is hard to get you to rest. You throw yourself into your play, hurling yourself at the edge of the bed, racing at top speed to the open front door, and slamming drawers open and closed. You are not content to observe, and you don’t hesitate to be in the middle of something you think is interesting. You want to be in the middle of everything, in fact, and if we leave you out, you make your displeasure known.

Some of that is foreign to me – I am content to sit. And some of it is much too close for comfort. I like to be included, and sometimes I think I see echoes of those desires in you already. Maybe I am just projecting my own feelings on to you. I will try not to let my emotions about those things get so tangled up inside. I know you will be figuring out your own path. I want to be more like your dad, who finds great joy in your extreme excitement for life. I laugh now, thinking how sure I was that you would be feisty rather than laid back. Maybe I knew more than I realized at the time, because so far you are not a gentle fellow.

We can’t protect you from bumps and bruises, but it’s the ones that we won’t be able to see that make me the most nervous about the years ahead. When it comes to physical bruises, it’s easier for me to believe that that is how you learn. At some point, you will surely figure out that you can’t throw yourself off the edge of the bed with no consequences. I will try to teach you to learn from the ones on the inside, too. The ones that come from hurtful words and actions, from dreams disappointed, from hopes shattered. Those are the ones that still scare me, but they are the ones I know how to survive. They don’t heal as quickly as the bruise on your forehead will, but they do heal. I believe that your hurts and disappointments can make you stronger if only you will let them heal cleanly rather than letting them fester. I am not the best example of this, but I want to show you a better way.

The nice ladies at your school were so sorry that you got hurt. The incident report said that they gave you lots of TLC and an ice pack, and that they were going to try not to let you move the furniture anymore. I objected, saying that you love to move the furniture, and I don’t want you to miss out on the fun. I hope they saw that for what it is: practical rather than unfeeling. I am pretty sure you won’t be deterred from pushing those beds around, and I am very sure this is only the first of many incident reports.


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