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Dad Injury Paradox

September 2, 2013

I’m a dad.

I play rough with my kids.

I expect to injure my children and to be injured by them.  My wife actually tolerates it very well, most of the time.  There was actually a really fascinating period lasting a few weeks where every time I wore a white shirt, one of my kids would bleed on it. The bleeding in each case did emanate from a playing-with-daddy game of some sort.  For the record, this is where the “most of the time” comes in, I learned that my wife certainly has her limits.

Most of the injuries occur when we play on the bed.   Playing on the bed typically involves these two games: me finding inventive ways to launch my children through the air and to land on the bed with minimal injury or  we “wrestle” which usually involves my children finding inventive ways to injure me.

The child injuries tend to fall into these categories:

  • Head on head collision between the kids – most of the time these aren’t caused by me
  • Face versus knee or elbow collisions
  • “Oops, daddy didn’t mean to make your neck/leg/arm bend that way” injuries
  • My personal favorite: overly excited kid runs straight into a wall or doorway, thus causing injury

If the injury is minor (no blood, no soundless crying, no loss of motor control) I give it minimal attention and re-engage in the merrymaking.  Typically just a  moment of attention is enough to move things forward and to avoid milking the injury.

If its more serious, I will stop the play, give the hugs, administer the band-aids, apologize to the wife, spray stain remover on few bits of blood on my shirt and then re-engage.  I always make sure to end the play on a high note.

For me on the other hand, the injuries fall into these categories:

  • Kicked in the balls
  • Elbowed in the balls
  • Flying child lands on my balls with their knees
  • Child’s head, thrown back, hits me in the nose or jaw…or my balls

For the minor injuries, the ones where I do not involuntarily cry out in pain, I try to just play on as if nothing happens.  That is, unless there is foul play (repeatedly doing something they were instructed NOT to do, as it will likely injure someone, likely that someone is daddy).  In those cases, there is a dreaded lecture.

However, once in a while, I obtain an injury in which I have no control over my reaction.  I may yelp, I may fall over while clutching a body part (usually the one that made the children now causing me injury) and I may just lay still.

The result is the Dad Injury Paradox.  While I lay in pain, my children go through a predictable set of stages.

  1. Confusion: “Why have you stopped playing daddy?”
  2. Understanding: “Are you hurt daddy?”
  3. Concern: “Oh no, are you ok???”
  4. Mega-concern: “Daddy! I’m sorry! Are you ok?”
  5. Loss of control: Usually one child cries, then the next child cries and their cries feed off one another and until the wife comes running in, convinced someone lost a limb.

So, while I am the one that’s hurt, obviously the most pain is inflicted upon the poor hapless children.  So, I either take a moment to recover from my own injury, which will result in hysterical children that I will need to somehow comfort while doubled over in pain, or else I man up and pretend like nothing ever happened.

So, the moral of the story is: Practice and become like this guy.


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  1. You have described what happens in our house almost every night. Our little one at two years old is a rough head who you can pick up and slam and he comes back asking for more.

  2. That makes me happy to hear. Seems most of the dads I know are terrified of breaking their children, even the involved ones. I probably take some unwise risks now and again, but often times those activities are what they enjoy most.

    PS. Thanks for my first comment, ever 🙂

  3. Leslie permalink

    Awesome story. I love it!

  4. I have seen this SOOO many times, I laughed out loud at work reading it: “overly excited kid runs straight into a wall or doorway, thus causing injury”

    I’m not the most coordinated guy, so I think the kids learned it from me. 🙂

    Awesome post!!! I’ll definitely be back!


    • It may make me terrible…but I laugh. Every time. My son is almost 5, and he now takes offense to my laughter. “It’s not funny!!!” Sorry son, but I disagree, its damn funny. LOL.

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