Climbing the Slide

I’ve been thinking a lot about my 22 month old son and how he sees and interacts with the world. It’s not hard to compare him to my five year old daughter’s way of taking on the world at that age. Knowing that my memory is surely imperfect, and that I’ve either enlarged or shrunk her accomplishments and failures. (There is an almost minute by minute fluctuation in these two states when you’re a toddler.) So I’m not sure that being a boy makes him braver, but rather being a second child has lead to more modeling from the five year, challenging him to keep up. I, too, then have become a different parent while supervising his play than I was watching my daughter. I’m learning to embrace his bravado, his willingness to live life outside the normal physical boundaries of the under-two set. Nothing remarkable, really, no genius talents yet, but a sheer desire to explore the limits of his own strength, persistence, and imagination.

Because child only see or learn the boundary we establish for them. A toddler doesn’t question the possibility of falling off of a slide, doesn’t consider time and space, and doesn’t understand, no matter how many times we will tell them to be careful what that actually means or how they could act to ensure this careful nature.

And through it’s frightening for parents, it’s also kind of thrilling, too. When was the last time you did something not out of self-destruction, but out of true doe-eyed naiveté for the sure pleasure of trying something new? No, adults, though they make mistakes, often can calculate the risks involved, have a general good sense of time and space, and can act accordingly, especially when considering physical acts such as running, jumping, or going down a slide.

Some risks, are, rightly so, not worth taking, so this is the point where I refer to writing. That’s the place where calculation comes often at a higher cost than risk, where I’d love to find the remnants of my own toddler brain, too forget about falling off the slide, and just climb, word after word, happy for the adventure, knowing I can always try again.

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