Friday, October 1, 2010

Free Parking

Our guests have gone home and (after a long nap) we have resumed our normal lives.

Yesterday we went to the park. Usually our trips go like this:

We show up, and he says "woof woof" to the dogs in the neighboring dog park. I unbuckle him from the stroller and set him down in the pea gravel. He stands for a moment, surveys the lay of the land, and then crawls off like a bat out of hell towards some sticks or a pine cone or other mundane object. Depending on how sharp and pointy the stick is (or how sticky the pine cone) I either let him sit for a moment and analyze the object, or I try to corral him into another area of the playground. He might stand at the base of the slide or crawl under some of the play equipment, but that's about it. We share some rice puffs and a cup of water, then walk home.

But yesterday? There was no stopping this (not so) lean, mean baby machine. He climbed the steps. He crawled into the tunnels on his own. He tried to walk unassisted on (of all places) the shaky chain bridge.You might think that sounds brave and death defying already, but GET THIS, you guys.

He went down the slide all by himself. All previous attempts at helping him down the slide ended in screaming. Even while sitting on my lap, the slide still produced whimpers at best. Yesterday I saw him crawling towards the slide and I thought:

Slide? No way he's going to go down that. He hates the slide. He's terrified. He'll turn around and crawl back down the steps.

Instead, he squatted at the top of the slide. Threw some rocks down it. Analyzed the angle of the slide and the trajectory of the rocks. Looked over the edge. Gauged the distance to the ground. Suddenly the gears in his head came into perfect alignment and a decision was made. He was going for it.

He sat down at the top and inched over the edge slowly, slowly...

Then gravity took hold of him and he was off like Moody's Goose down The Biggest Slide in the playground.

He landed on his butt at the bottom.  I was sure he was terrified. I was worried he would cry and never try the slide again. There was a moment of stunned stillness, but then...

He stood up. He clapped. He crawled up the steps to do it again. And again. And again.

It was like he woke up yesterday from his nap and just decided, "Well.. This is it. Today is my day. I will do everything and I will have no fear." And then he did.

We came home and he learned how to climb onto the couch. He learned how to climb up onto our bed. He took several daringly unassisted steps. He worked his new puzzle until he got each piece in its place. He had a can-do mindset, and he could-do and did-do.

Although he fails more often than he succeeds, he is ever enthusiastic. Even a modicum of success is greeted with clapping and dancing. Failure only causes him to set his jaw and try again.

Sometimes it is hard to raise such a fearless boy, but I'd rather wash stains out of his jeans and bandage his scraped knees than teach him to be afraid or doubtful. It was scary to watch him slide by himself, but sometimes he knows better than I what he's capable of achieving. I don't ever want him to hold back because he's scared of failure. I don't ever want him to doubt his brilliance.

Right now he is unstoppable and he knows it. He is capable and he believes it. He has a great pride and love for himself and his accomplishments.

I hope life never takes that away from him.

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