Yesterday my ten-month-old went down the slide by himself.
For months on our daily outing to the park, he sat next to me on the concrete playing with blocks or balls, watching his older brother run and play. He never went beyond arms reach, in spite of being an avid explorer at home.
But yesterday, he wandered away.
I watched him crawl to the slide, touch the rails, and make his way up the stairs. I moved to be closer.
He stood at the top, looking through the rails on one side, and then the other. He watched as his brother came up, then slid down, over and over. He moved closer to the slide, inching his feet closer and closer to the drop-off, sometimes pulling back a bit.
And then he did it — he stepped out, fell on his bottom, turned over, and slid down on his belly with his feet first.
He looked surprised for a moment, then righted himself and tried to crawl back up, looking like he was doing a workout on a baby treadmill because every inch up meant an inch slide back down.
After a few minutes he gave up, then slowly backed down off the slide, carefully reaching one leg, then the other, behind him until his feet touched the ground.
He spent the rest of our time at the park under the slide, examining the metal of the steps, then running his little hands on the cool smoothness of the plastic slope.
Tears came to my eyes for a moment — my son did something amazing, completely on his own.
I was raised to believe this about children: they need to be controlled, they need to be trained, they can’t figure things out for themselves.
My boys have proved this wrong, over and over.
It was so hard to resist the temptation to help him — hurry him at the top, sit him down on his bottom, and pick him up and take him away to a safer location. It was hard not to coax him up the slide again, to watch him do his new skill over and over again.
But if I had, I would have missed the opportunity to see what he could do. I would have missed an opportunity to let him discover his own capabilities. I would have missed an opportunity to show him I trust him to figure out the things that are important to him, in his life, in his moment.
And I would have missed the opportunity to show him I love him right now, just the way he is.
Photo credit: mary mackinnon on Flickr
This post was originally published as a guest post, I love you for who you are right now, at Code Name: Mama. Dionna’s blog is a wonderful resource for natural parents — you should peruse her site after you leave your thoughts on my post.
Some of my favorites:
And also read the guest post she has on Mama Eve, Three is the New Two.