An Injury Prompts a Re-Investigation of Toddler Self Harm

Over the last couple of weeks or so, I’ve gotten a lot of letters (yes, people still send actual letters). Letters ranging from the earnest to the polite to the enraged asking me, begging me, for another Daddy’s Little Miracle post.

And as much as I don’t like being yelled at, I’ve wanted to satisfy these requests. No one worships your worship of this blog more than me.

But the plain fact of the matter is that I’ve been injured. Yes, I’m an amazing daddy capable of great feats of physical and emotional strength, but I’m not invincible – especially around the eyes, as it turns out.

You see, a week and a half ago, while playing basketball, I was engaged in a typically impressive bout of athleticism when I was poked in the eye. The poke wasn’t intentional, but it was unbelievably painful and it has taken a long time to heal.

The first couple of days I was in constant pain, lying on the couch, keeping my eyes closed and listening to Marx Brothers movies. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a lot of those jokes work without any visuals. (“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I don’t know.”)

Even after the pain subsided, I wasn’t able to read or write for an extended period of time without feeling extreme discomfort. A computer screen was and still is, a bit painful to stare at for too long.

So I haven’t had the time to whip up the genius I’ve become famous for.

Instead, I’ve decided to republish a piece I wrote for Life of Dad a couple years ago, when my little miracle baby was entering toddlerhood and struggling with what could only be described as a serious attitude problem. After re-reading it, I was surprised by how good and relevant it is as a piece of writing.

I was inspired to revisit the story partially because it starts with my son scratching himself – which was particularly resonant given my recent injury. But then, it takes a dark turn, exploring issues of exploitation, legal manipulation and, of course, fat shaming.



Why Did My Little Miracle Baby Scratch Himself?

You guys, the other day I got a call from my little miracle baby’s daycare center. They told me that the boy got really frustrated with some other kid because he didn’t want to share some toy and scratched himself. Himself! He self-harmed!

Apparently, this is normal for toddlers, but I still couldn’t understand why he would do something like that, so I sat him down for a heart-to-heart father-son talk.

Me:  I heard you scratched yourself at daycare today out of frustration… why would you do that, son?

My Little Miracle Baby:  I guess I just wanted to feel something.

Me:  What are you talking about? You sound depressed.

MLMB:  I mean, look around you. So much consumerism and commercialism. Everyone’s out for himself. Not to mention the rampant obesity…

Me:  I keep telling you, I don’t have a weight problem!

MLMB:  Here we go. It has to be about you, doesn’t it? You’re such an egotist!

Me:  I’m not fat! Oh, wait. You said “egotist”. I’m okay with that.

MLMB:  Of course you’re okay with it. You’re part of the machine! The fat part!

Me:  I knew it! You called me fat!

MLMB:  Well, it’s not like it’s a secret.

Me:  Listen, this is all well and good, but I don’t want you to keep scratching your good-looking face. That’s how I plan to make my living one day.

MLMB:  You. Monster. I’ll see you never make a dime from these long lashes, piercing eyes and chiseled chin!

Me:  Too late!

MLMB:  I’m calling the police.

Me:  Who do you think helped me put together this adorable “Policemen Rescue a Baby” calendar that I’m selling for twenty dollars a pop?

MLMB:  You won’t get away with this.

Me:  I already have.

And then I laughed and laughed. Because sometimes that’s what good parenting’s all about.


[Photo courtesy of FreeImages]



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