Ryder climbed up the yellow wall on the playground. He stood gripping the top of the wall with one hand, the blue railing of the doorway with his other, and he was nudging his foot slowly over. He looked so big, way up high with his shiny shoes and his MTSU hoodie that he had dressed himself in for our February picnic and park day. Kids were laughing and running, and Ryder was silent and concentrating. In just a few moments, hands and feet came together, and he was running on the top level of the playgym, ready to slide down and start all over again.
He was oblivious to my fears below as I let him climb. I let him hold on with one hand while he reached for that bar with another. I watched as his tongue traced his lips in his concentrating pose. I wanted to tell him not to climb so high, not to let go with his hand, and most definitely to not stick his tongue out.... because every mother knows that is a sure way to bite your tongue completely off. But I didn't. I stood there silently, and I let him climb.
I stay at home with Ryder now, and we plan to homeschool when that comes...but no matter how much I am with him, I can't stop the process of being a mother learning to let go, and he is just three. I don't miss him being a little baby at all. I most definitely don't want to go back to those days of babbles and drools and me being his only means of locomotion. So much of my joy in him is learning who he is, and watching the boy, and eventually (very, very eventually :), the man he is on his way to becoming. But fighting that motherly urge to fix all his troubles and jump up every time he falls takes effort, and lots of it! And he is JUST THREE. His troubles usually revolve around an issue with sharing or with who is going to be Batman today, and while those are major to him, I know they are such small things compared to what he is going to face as he gets older. And there is a line, a tiny, almost invisible line that I am going to have to learn as a mother between letting him work things out on his own, and between keeping him safe and protected, and sweet and nice in a world that does not promote sweetness and niceness.
He is just three, and today he climbed all the way up the sunny yellow wall. And I watched silently...from my place directly beneath him, ready to catch him if he fell. (And I use catch loosely, because it would have more accurately been a softening of the fall, as both of us landed in a tangled heap on the ground). I hope I can always be standing beneath him, as I'm waiting for Ryder to grow and climb, even when one day, when he's older than three, and he's climbing out of my reach. ***Written in February 2011, but not posted.