Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Small Steps through Dark Tunnels

My little man is fearless.

Here he is running into (and through) a long, dark tunnel without so much as glancing back, completely unaware of the lurking dangers in its cold, dark recesses.

(My husband followed after, of course.)

In some ways I am proud of him.

He is adventurous and athletic and uninhibited.

But the compulsive and slightly neurotic side of me (that still checks my two year-old's breathing multiple times throughout the night) is going crazy.

I want to hold and protect him like the little baby he is (to me).

When we go to the park, I want to hold his hand up the stairs and catch him at the bottom of the (3 foot) slide.

My husband wants him to climb plastic rock walls and brave the tallest, twistiest slides all by himself.

I watch other parents.  I envy their cautious children.  And while I tell myself I do not want a three year-old too scared to attempt the kiddy slide, I do.

I envision worst case scenarios everywhere I go.

When he was a baby I imagined some careless holder smacking his tiny head against the wall.  As a beginning walker I pictured him diving eye first into sharp, pointy surfaces.  Now I see him leaping off slides, dashing in front of cars, trapping himself beneath heavy furniture. 

Not to say I don't childproof to the best of my abilities.  Believe me, I do. 

But I can't childproof the world.  (Right?  I mean, if anyone hears of a way, please let me know.)

The fact remains that at some point I need to let go. 

To trust.  And to hope.

Hope he is cautious and intelligent and safe with his choices.

I mean, one day (God-willing) the boy will ride a bus to school and play sports and drive a car.

I can't follow him, ready to catch his fall, grabbing the collar of his shirt when he starts to stray. 

He needs to dream and to pursue his dreams.  Dreams in which he saves the world or makes the team or braves a long, dark tunnel with his tiny, toddler legs.

And I need to take small steps back with each step he takes forward.

And then I need to do it all over again when my baby grows up. 

If I can't, well...

... watch for me you mothers of two year-old girls. 

I'll be the one at your daughter's rehearsal dinner, cutting up grapes and hot dogs for the groom.


  1. Oh lovely post yet again. As the mother of an ultra-cautious toddler I can tell you the opposite scenario is equally as hard to deal with at times. Watching every other child her age and younger shooting down the bigger toddler slides with delight as she warily watches, wanting to join in but not having the courage can be heartbreaking. If only all little ones were in the middle, some courage but not too much!!

  2. Sometimes I forget and cut up my 10 yr old's food into teeny tiny pieces!!

    I am super cautious as well with my 2 year old. WHen she is old enough, I know I will step back a little, but I will regret it if it is too soon! Heck, we live in a Rambler and she just learned to do stairs without killing herself!

  3. What a sweet post, still I had to laugh at the image of you dicing hotdogs at a wedding reception.

    I promise, it does get easier. Yet, even with my older kids, I sometimes get this pang (part sadness, part sheer panic) when they're walking away from me, in to school or on to the bus, and I'm fairly certain my heart is breaking.

    He will be fine. You? You will too, but slightly less so. ;) At least we have a bloggy support group.

  4. This was sweet and wonderful. And I love that you ended it with a laugh (says she who cut up both hot dogs and grapes last night)!

  5. OMG, Kim, sometimes I wonder if you and I were separated at birth. That comment at the end about cutting up hotdogs and grapes at the wedding sealed the deal for me.

    I hosted a playdate not too long ago where I served grapes as a snack. I was taking the time to slice up the grapes into quarters when one of the moms who has a 2-year old said "Oh don't bother cutting Emily's grapes...I never do". All I could say was, "Well, I certainly hope you're not rusty on your CPR skills".

    Who would take a chance like that??!!

    Anyway, I know how you feel. None of my kids have any fear. They'd see a pool of water and jump in with both feet without a care in the world.

    With that said, I know at some point we have to let go and let them venture out into the world, where we know certain dangers lurk. It makes me sick to even think about it. But think about what our children would be like if we held them too close all the time.

    It's a catch-22. Good thing we all have one another to lean on!

    BTW, I'm sitting here sipping on a cold cup of tea...ironic? I think not. LOL

  6. Well, she'd be a pretty low-maintenance girl if she was okay with serving hotdogs at the rehearsal dinner, so maybe it would work out. ;-)

    I sooooo hear you on having a fearless child! My oldest was born without a fear gene, and boy is it challenging. I don't think I fully appreciated it until the boys were born and I realized not all kids are that crazy. I do thank my lucky stars that only 1 out of 3 is that way, though. I would be in the looney bin by now if the twins were danger fiends, too.


Related Posts with Thumbnails