Sunday, May 07, 2006

Watch and learn, watch and learn


The creaking of the swings can be heard long before we reach the playground. She's fighting her third (and hopefully last) cold of the season but I've convinced myself that a walk to the park will be good for both of us.

When we reach the green Ittybit squirms to get down.

"I need to running, mom?" she looks at me for permission and lopsidedly waddles over to the BIG slide.

"Go up there, mom?" This time her tone is more of a command than a question, but still she waits for my nod of approval before she makes her ascent.
I'm not sure how we managed to harbor an early walker (10 months) who is still content to stay in her crib until we come to "wakt" her up, especially now that she's over the ripe old age of two. But I thank the same gods who decided she would — of her own volition — ask permission BEFORE she gives any of her food to the dogs; throws fruit down the stairs; or puts her favorite book into the VCR expecting it, no doubt, to come to life.

Of course, when you have a child who hangs back and watches every move, you have the tendency to try and get her to take the bull by the horns once and a while. Some might call me naïve and even unwise to let a toddler make such decisions as whether to climb the 14 feet straight up before careening down a chute on her own, but I've always learned by watching, too.

Before I was a parent, I observed in amazement as my cousin asked her toddler if he "felt safe" climbing to the top of the jungle gym by himself. He said 'no' and promptly came down. That same child, standing on top of a stored canoe one year later, weighed his mother’s words as she asked him if he thought standing on the wobbly boat was "safe." This time he answered a defiant "yes" and simultaneously came crashing to the ground.

She picked him up in her arms and calmly checked him over, dabbing at a little blood on his lip with a kitchen towel. She spoke calmly and without sarcasm asked him if he’d be doing that again. Through tears and sobs he answered as honestly as any preschooler could: "YES!"

We laughed. But it became clear to me that the work of being a toddler is mildly dangerous out of a kind of necessity. They need to go IN so they can find OUT. Getting a few scrapes and bruises along the way, isn’t the worst thing that could happen.

I knew right then I wanted to be my cousin's brand of mommy.
I remind myself of her example as Ittybit wants me to go up the slide with her like I use to when she was a "baby." I tell her she can do it by herself now, but I will be at the end waiting to "catch" her.

She sits at the top for a second before giving herself a lifting push. Down she comes, laughing joyfully, her eyelids press tightly together and her wispy hair aloft on the breeze. She pushes my arms away as she scrunches to the end of the slide and drops to the ground by herself. Wheeling around toward the ladder, she shrieks with glee, "Do it again, mommy. Do it again."

No questions asked. No help necessary.

1 comment:

Be Still said...

If you are familiar with the "Love & Logic" school of parenting, you'd be called a "consultant". That is what my husband and I are aspiring to be. We veer back and forth into "helicopter" and "drill sergeant" on occasion though!