The Time My 'Wild Child' Got Her Head Stuck Between Two Bars

by Nicki Lynn
Originally Published: 
My Toddler Got Her Head Stuck In The Bars Of A Pier: A frowning a little girl with cheeks squeezes h...
Scary Mommy and Juanmonino/Getty

My oldest daughter has always been a rough-and-tumble kid. From the moment she was born, she never stopped moving and jumping. She’s a “tomboy” and a natural athlete, often times prone to disaster. When I first learned I was pregnant, I honestly thought I was having a boy. I envisioned a large family of boys running through the house. I pictured a miniature version of my husband and his brother. When I learned I was having a girl, my visions quickly changed. I imagined, instead, princess dresses and tea parties.

By the time my articulate daughter was a toddler, I knew I had gained the best of both worlds. I had a daughter who was a tomboy. I don’t believe in forcing children to like certain things because of their gender. I believe children need to be allowed to have their own unique differences. My daughter loved running, jumping, playing with trains and Hot Wheels. We bought her a floor trampoline just so she could work off the extra energy.

We would watch her run down the sidewalk at full speed, trip, skin her legs and jump up to continue the race. She even was racing up our cement steps after her cousin when she tripped, face-planted into the step and sliced open her forehead. In a panic, we rushed her to urgent care for sutures. She didn’t even cry during the sutures, she just asked the doctor questions about the procedure.

I remember the doctor telling me. “Does she read? Make sure she reads every night! She’s smart!”

A week later, she was jumping on our bed, which she wasn’t supposed to do and she fell off, hitting the back of her head against the wall. She sliced her scalp open, and fortunately it didn’t require sutures. Exhausted, I called my mom to vent while questioning my ability as a parent.

My mom just laughed.

At a birthday party for my friend’s daughter, we showed up in a Thomas the Train t-shirt amid a sea of little girls in princess dresses. The theme was Candy Land and instead of playing with the other girls, my daughter went around their house and systematically popped every balloon they had. She also went running through their house at top speed, tripped and fell through their screen door.

I offered to replace everything, blow up more balloons, fix their decorations and take their screen up to the hardware store. They only laughed and told me how much they love my daughter. They also assured me that the screen was already broken and it was just a matter of time before someone went through it. I was honestly embarrassed …why couldn’t my daughter just wear a dress and play with dolls quietly? I questioned my own parenting abilities. Maybe allowing her to be her own person was backfiring.

Finally, the day came when all of her antics melded together into one momentous, panicking moment. I learned that day how to always roll with disasters. I couldn’t change her, but I could choose to embrace the chaos which had seemingly become my life.

My youngest daughter was just a few months old. I was taking baby steps towards independence. I worked up the courage to take both a baby and a toddler to the park. It was a cloudy fall day and the rain was at bay. We walked through the park, my daughter running around while the baby was in a front carrier strapped to my chest. She played on the playground and worked off some of her energy. We then took a walk down to the lake and watched the ducks for a while.


Before we left, we walked the pier and observed a privately-owned sea plane. I was pointing out something to the baby when I heard my daughter yelp for help. I turned around to see that she had stuck her head between the railings of the pier. I laughed and attempted to help her free her head. I gently pulled on her, but to my horror, her head wouldn’t budge. She was stuck, and I mean completely stuck! I don’t know how on earth she managed to get her big round head between those thin metal bars.

She panicked and started to whimper. I’m also panicking at this point, feeling my anxiety start to skyrocket. I’m not prepared to parent such a wild child like my daughter. I’m an awful parent because no matter what I do, she always ends up in these predicaments! If she makes it to elementary school, it’s going to be a straight up miracle!

The baby started to cry, probably sensing my distress. I gently worked my daughter’s head up and down, trying to figure out at which point she managed to stick her head through. I think about the baby lotion in my diaper bag. Maybe I could slick her head with lotion and she would slide right through? I started looking towards the shore for help. I needed a dad, perhaps. But to my dismay, all the other families had disappeared.

I felt a few raindrops, the sky growing darker by the minute. I pulled out my phone and planned on calling 911, thinking, This situation is going to require the Jaws of Life and we’ll make the front page of the local newspaper! I was already feeling the embarrassment, and worse, feeling like a terrible parent.

“Why do you always do these things?” I asked my daughter. “Why does this always happen?”

As I prepared to press “send,” I noticed a couple sprinting towards me on the pier. They were rapidly calling out words to me in Spanish. They finally reached us, and within seconds, I realized that they spoke absolutely no English. It didn’t matter, though; language has no bearing on a child in trouble. They dropped down, this husband and wife, and started assessing the situation. The man ran his hands up and down the metal bars while the woman gently checked my daughter’s head.

The man smiled and said something to his wife in Spanish. She gently pushed my daughter’s head down to an area of the bars where they happened to be just a bit wider. Her head came free and we all gave a collective sigh of relief. They knelt down before her and examined her head, almost oblivious to the fact that I was there. I think they were needing as much reassurance as I was. When they concluded that she was fine, I thanked them profusely. They smiled and walked away, leaving us just as quickly as they had come.

And my daughter? She just grinned at me and said, “I kinda wanted to see a fire truck!” I started laughing and reached down to give her a hug.

As much as she stresses me out, I wouldn’t change her. She’s amazing and incredible! These disasters she is prone to cause me grief, but they only make her marvel at this adventure we call life. She rolls with every predicament as if they were second nature. She also learns from all of these emergencies. Now that she’s a fourth grader, she’s actually quite cautious and she will rush to the aid of any younger child who she feels is doing something dangerous.

I chose that day to embrace the unexpected. I chose to celebrate her for her uniqueness. I have never tried to change her to fit any mold. I love her for everything she is, and the fire that burns so brightly within her … even if it does get out of hand every once in a while.

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