To anyone who has ever invited my family over: I apologize if I seem a little preoccupied during our visit. It’s just that, well, I’m afraid my kid is going to break your stuff.
It’s not that he hasn’t been properly socialized or taught to respect people’s things. He isn’t some sort of wild animal crashing through with no regard for his surroundings. The poor child just doesn’t have any natural grace whatsoever. To put it bluntly: He’s a huge klutz.
He tries to be careful, bless his heart. But my son has something like the Midas touch, although instead of whatever he touches turning to gold, it just breaks.
Dishes swan-dive off shelves in his wake. If there’s an electrical cord tethering an appliance to a wall, he’ll trip over it, and probably yank said appliance off the counter/shelf in the process. He will walk straight through screen doors, fall over nothing, stumble up stairs, skid on rugs, and if there’s a single slippery spot on the pavement, he’ll find it.
We spent a recent Sunday in the emergency room — five stitches to the scalp because he fell into a damn wall while playing with his brother. Once, he knocked our TV off its stand (inadvertently, of course) and shattered the screen. He fumbles with anything he tries to carry, which is why we’ve ended up on multiple occasions with gallons of milk or jars of pickles busted in the grocery store parking lot. But I can’t be mad because he literally can’t help it. He’s our little bull in a china shop.
We’ve ruled out poor vision and issues with the development of his feet and the rest of his body. At this point, we can safely say it isn’t due to a larger problem, which is a relief on one hand and a worry on the other, because no definite reason why he’s naturally clumsy means no definite remedy or end in sight.
I mostly worry about how it will affect him socially before he outgrows it (if he outgrows it at all). At some point, he’ll suffer from embarrassment at school because it’s not like he can leave his clumsiness at home the way he does his jacket. Inevitably, he’ll drop his lunch tray (probably in front of his crush because that’s how these things always go), or trip and crash headfirst into a locker, or make some kind of stunningly uncoordinated move in P.E. — or all of the above.
He’s only getting older, and the pressure to be “cool” in front of his classmates is only getting stronger, and I’m afraid his klutzy nature will make him an easy target for bullies. Like it or not, life is uniquely challenging for my awkward offspring, whether those challenges come from his own body or from those who witness its unfortunate missteps.
Due to his lack of finesse, I try not to put unrealistic expectations on him. He’ll likely never be the star of the baseball team or be known for his agility on the basketball court. We’ll be lucky if he masters the art of standing on his own two (left) feet. Each kid has areas of great aptitude, and physical prowess just isn’t one of his, so I’m not gonna try to fit a round peg into a square hole.
Instead, I’ll focus on steering him toward things that don’t require as much coordination and hope that he’ll find his niche somewhere else. But if he wants to try out a sport, I’m also not going to discourage him from it just because I’m afraid he’ll be made fun of. I’ll encourage him to pursue whatever makes him feel good and be there to support him if he falls flat on his face, and I mean that literally or figuratively.
Because with a kid like this, either one is entirely possible.