Hey buddy

Can you come here for a sec?

What’s up Papa?

There’s just a problem in the bathroom

I point to the floor and draw his attention to the used tissue lurking, in plain sight. Then to the counter, where his inside-out undies and shorts perch, ready for me to lean on as I wash my face.

Such is life in a family.

Sorry, papa

It’s OK bud, just take care of it next time please.

He grabs the undergarments and makes his way over to his dirty clothes hamper. Spins around once, sneaks the clothing underneath his leg, and posterizes his imaginary defender.

Displays of athletic prowess are not complete, however, as he sprints like a cat and leaps onto his bed.

And that’s when I hear it


It’s a dull, muted sound, two hard surfaces in contact.

I’m just around the corner and out of sight, so I rely on ears to tell me what’s what.

But there’s not a sound

And that’s what worries me.

I poke my head around the corner and begin to comprehend the clonk.

He’s lying on his back, face beet red, mouth open in a silent howl, both hands clutching the back of his skull

And, onset of tears and the ever-so-slightest of whimpers

Oh, buddy

Like all great moments in parenting

I ask the question that doesn’t need to be asked.

Did you hit your head on the wall?

Gritted teeth, and a reponse


and follow it up with the most unhelpful of comments

you need to be careful

Because, that’s really what he needs to hear in this moment.

Nice one, Papa.

These are the worst moments. The ones when that little piece of your heart, out there in the world, is in pain. The moments you wish away

Because when your child suffers, you do too.

I backtrack and catch my error, pivoting to a

oh, I’m so sorry bud, let me grab you some ice.

I step aside for a moment, holler down the stairs asking J to bring the ice pack up, and return to the bed. Cradle his head and place a gentle kiss on his forehead.

The tears slow.

I reach behind, feeling for telltale goose egg and swelling, but there’s not much.

J hands me the blue, crusty pack and I fumble around his drawer to finally wrap it in a T-shirt. Ease it onto the back of his head and ask him to hold it in place.

She curls alongside him, as we attempt to sandwich away the hurt.

And as we cradle him, cradling ice, wiping tears,

I am transported back in time, when he was just the size of my arm, snug

and helpless.

He, furious, in pain, inconsolable. Me, suffering all the same, wishing this feeling away.

And I’m struck

By how those moments, once a daily struggle, suddenly feel so few and far between.

He doesn’t need me as much

and I’m not sure how I feel about that

And, so.

Instead of wishing this moment away

When he snuggles closer, I breathe it in

And remember

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

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  1. Well, f$#@, this one just snuck up on me, so beautifully and painfully. I don’t have kids of my own, but you wove this piece through with the depth and complexity of what it’s like to be a parent. This is the line, where I found myself wiping away tears: “She curls alongside him, as we attempt to sandwich away the hurt.” And, that last line. Oof.

    Liked by 1 person

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