The Line Between Learning and a Fat Lip


My son recently busted his lip after taking a fall. I swear, he went from taking one or two steps to walking to literally running within a matter of mere days, I swear. He is fast, and he is occasionally steady. Other times he is fast and…just wild. His head will somehow be leading a few inches ahead of his feet, and he is an accident waiting to… no, he’s an accident happening right now. There is no waiting. And I keep wondering when do I step in? Is his inevitable fat lip worth the lesson of natural consequence?

I’ve been told, I’ve read, and I’ve born witness the fact that kids learn by doing. They are natural explorers, and I believe my son is especially curious. He discovered rugs and mats recently, for example. He will lift up every one he sees; hey, maybe there is something under this one! Rugs aren’t dangerous (though yes, they are gross), but they also aren’t very cool, and my son still wants to explore them. Like I said, the babe is curious.

As a mother, I want my son to explore and learn through his own discoveries. But real talk, when do they learn that crashing into the ground hurts? My son likes to dive. Not into, say, a swimming pool, but into the ground. And sometimes he runs and trips on something (…or nothing) and comes crashing down unintentionally. These things hurt him, and I can only stop them from happening sometimes. And I can only stop myself from feeling guilty sometimes, too.

I hate watching my son get hurt. He just cut his lip today running while wearing my underwear on his head. This was a new “trick,” and I admit to finding it more hilarious than dangerous. But he ended up hurt, and I ended up feeling bad.

I can’t catch him after every fall or prevent every accident. And I know I shouldn’t want to, because after all, he’s learning, right? Well, there’s a fine line between learning and a fat lip. I don’t know where that line is, but I have a rambunctious, curious explorer and I hope to find out soon. In the meantime, you can find me lurking nervously behind my beautifully unbalanced babe, reaching out to catch him sometimes and letting him learn to dive with more grace other times.


  1. Lol I had one of those too. It gets better, now at 3 he will actually learn from it before the 6th time in a row.
    My advice: Relax. Prevent him hurting himself when you can, protect him from real harm, but don’t sweat a fat lip. Or bruises all up his shins and forehead. Teach him to shake it off, and teach yourself that too. The only line to worry about is the bandaid/hospital one and knowing when it’s crossed that. Boys LIKE hurting themselves in grand explorations. I have 5 brothers… strange creatures :)His dad was an ER regular as a tick.
    I won’t lie though, I put a stick-on tatoo over a big old bruise on his leg this summer when I took him to the county fair… not everyone understands reckless boys. It’s a tough time to parent! Best wishes with yours!

    • Your advice is perfect, Allyson! He’s definitely had his share of bruises, and more to come! I appreciate the comment/feedback!

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