I had put our old mattress on the basement floor, knowing that our sons would enjoy jumping on it.
For reasons that defy logic, I decided that this would be an great opportunity to attempt a flip.
I had done this move before, in diving, on trampolines, so what could go wrong.
I didn’t have Dr. Phil then asking his trademark question: “What were you thinking?”
Our oldest had come down to watch me, he was about 2 or 3.
I executed the flip perfectly, everything went as planned, until I landed on the mattress.
Ow! The concrete floor did not give like the trampoline does.
Our oldest laughed when I landed.
As a pure reflex, I swatted him in the stomach as I tried to start breathing again.
I knew instantly that I had screwed up – not just the flip – but hitting him.
He was not being disrespectful, he laughed as we all do when we see a prat-fall.
I painfully got up, hugged him and wiped away his tears.
I looked him in the eye and said: “What Daddy did was very wrong; I should not have hit you; I am sorry, please forgive me. I am giving you permission, this one time, to hit me as hard as you want, anywhere on my body except my face. Is that ok?”
He nodded. I got on my knees in front of him and braced myself.
He hit me in my stomach (thank goodness he did not know about the groin) and I said “Ow, that hurt” (he had an effective punch, even then)
We hugged for a long time as I told him: “I love you; I promise to never hit you again like that.”
He might have forgotten that incident, but I never did.