The helmet

The helmet

The things we do for our kids. There is no end. From the day we bring them home from the hospital and it takes the kid’s father almost an hour to figure out how to put the base of the car seat in the car…

Come to think of it, the whole experience is like a challenge on one of those reality shows. Ladies and gentleman, this squirmy, screaming, pooping, adorable, helpless little poopchik is going to be your host. Your first challenge? Make it home from the hospital, using your new baby car seat, in the dead of winter, while new baby is in his/her new snowsuit, which makes buckling him/her in even more of a challenge. Drive home without looking in the backseat at your new miracle at least 50 times, no bickering between you and your spouse about whose parents’ house this little thing is spending his first holiday with and pull in to your driveway without the kid screaming his brains out, which would make new mom start to leak in the car — and nobody wants that. This is your first challenge.

The second challenge? Your first night home from the hospital. Boy oh boy oh boy. Baby books will tell you how much newborns sleep, but they are wrong. Oh so wrong. Son #1 slept for 15 minutes out of every hour. That was it. That was awful. I still get nauseous when I think about it. It might have been the longest night of my life. With son #2, the night before his bris, he slept for eight hours, consecutively. Husband #1 and I woke up — looked at each other, realized we had not heard a peep from this kid the entire night, and were afraid that he escaped from his crib and tried to find normal parents to raise him. He was fine — I am convinced that the night of sleep he had gave him energy to not sleep through the night for the next eight months.

Each stage is its own unique challenge, like the “Let’s take the kids to the park” challenge. One parent, three boys, two in diapers, all are hungry, and it looks like it might rain. Mom, your challenge is to change one poopy diaper while the kid who isn’t in diapers proceeds to dump the entire bag of cheerios all over the floor, attracting squirrels and birds alike, while the other child in diapers takes his diaper off and starts running around…. Your challenge is to not raise your voice at any of them and to clean the poop off your hands with the one remaining wipe because you forgot to put the new package in your diaper bag. Good times.

My challenge with son #3 was his helmet. The kid was a couple of months old when I noticed that one side of his head was shaped funny because he slept only on that side. (It’s known in the medical community as “positional plagiocephaly.”) I was mother-guilted into taking this poor little kid to get a helmet to round out his head. Husband #1 was totally against this. Let me just get that out there — this chapter of parenthood was entirely my fault. Entirely. The entire process was awful, making the cast of his head to make the helmet, having him wear it through the night, the pressure sore he developed that left him with a permanent bald spot, ironically shaped like an M (which happens to be the first letter of his name). This was a very bad chapter. Oh, and the helmet was NOT covered by insurance and it cost us $850. He wore it for less than eight weeks and I saved it because it cost $850 and I used it in the centerpiece at his bar mitzvah. Yes, I really did that. And if you are ever in my house, I keep it right by the front door so I will never forget what a terrible mother I was. (Apparently, I got better after that.)

But, again, it’s the things we do for our kids. How could I let him have a funny shaped head??? And now, any time I see a kid at the mall wearing a helmet, I go over to the mom to talk to her about it because I want her to know that she isn’t alone in being a terrible mother… Just kidding. I don’t really say that to her. We do the best we can until we screw up again…

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck received permission from son #3 to write this column about his helmet. He has forgiven her for it, but he is still going to Israel for at least a year come September.

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