Photo Credit: Nancy Louie/iStockA sock in the eye, a bite on the arm - these are the war wounds of motherhood.
You expect all kinds of discomfort when you have a baby. First there is the standard physical and emotional marathon of labor and delivery. Then you brace for the blinding pain of those first few days of nursing, the full-body aches and madness that come with sleep deprivation. Sure. Me, I signed up for all that. I was ready.
But then it turns out that your child continues to inflict pain upon you. The professionals couch this in terms such as boundary testing or tactile/kinesthetic exploration, but the fact is your kid will beat you up. At some point, when you least expect it, your child will engage you in a full-on frontal assault. Your delicate baby will sink her sharp, new little teeth into your lower lip. Your doe-eyed toddler will sock you right in the nose. It is almost inevitable.
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My son Henry's aggressive phase was brief, if vividly remembered. But while his behavior has changed significantly, the assaults continue. Children, even ones who have grown up enough to know that they shouldn't slam you in the head or the testicles, have only a vague understanding of how their bodies move through space. They're uncoordinated and given to spontaneous physical gestures. And they want to stand really close to you and show you their new toy with all its pointy parts. Or they want a piggyback ride and will, without warning, leap onto your neck, as you imagine your vertebrae collapsing like a busted ladder.
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I don't want to tamp down his natural exuberance, yet I do want to live! Which is why I have created four essential techniques, drawn from the wisdom I gleaned during those two weeks I took tai chi:
1. The Unbending Bough: When your child is hurtling her entire body in your direction, tighten your core and shoot your arms out in front of you, parallel to the ground. Grab her as soon as she reaches you. It looks as if you're reaching out for a hug, but actually you're saving yourself. And no one has to know.
2. The Watchful Egret: Whether you're playfully wrestling, helping your child put on his shoes, or just sitting with him on the couch, always be aware of the location and status of each of the child's limbs. Never let your attention waver. This is especially true of the Feet. The Feet will get you. Usually square in the nose. Keep one hand free to sweep any wild or errant limb aside, before it can make contact with your face.
3. The Boa Constrictor: Has your kid had one too many cookies? Did he just watch another Star Wars movie, and is he acting out all the parts at the same time? If you can't calm his flailing, squeeze him into submission. It's the only way.
4. The Wincing Hedgehog: If you suddenly see an elbow coming toward a vulnerable area, curl up and cry out at the same time.
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These moves can also help if your child enjoys wrestling with you. Although wrestling might seem counter to the whole keeping-your-parts-from-breaking goal, I recommend it. Flinging your bodies around for a bit (on a forgiving surface, of course) can help your child burn off some of the excess energy that might lead to his hurling a juice glass at your face during dinner. Most important, you're essentially just hugging most of the time, and your child doesn't even have to know it. After all, it can be hard to get a hug out of a 7-year-old boy, but it's easy to get a 7-year-old boy to submit to your Quantum Death Grip. Just make sure that this doesn't lead to Quantum Death Kissing, because then your child will be totally on to you.
Read more from Alice Bradley here: Redbook's Mom Blog
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.parent