It was almost a year ago that I wrote this. The time between 18 months and two years was tough for me, as I was unprepared for exactly how attached (I prefer to say clingy) kids get at that age...and Toast was no exception. It was hard for me.
Imagine my surprise, then, at the day we had yesterday.
We left the house to go and have lunch with our friends, as we do once a week. I stopped at a certain national chain coffee shop first to get some coffee, and as we were walking in a man with a dog was sitting outside. I always tell Toast that we don't talk to dogs we don't know, but I also know he LOVES dogs. What is it about kids and dogs? Anyway, I asked the man if we could pet his dog, and he said sure. The dog was sweet and friendly and Toast dove in immediately. After a short break to go in and get a drink, we returned to the dog, and I had a conversation with the man. He looked at me in the middle and said "your kid is fearless!" To me, this is a huge complement.
I want my kid to be independent. I want him to be cautious, and smart, and careful, yes, but I want him to be decisive and brave and independent as well. One of the things I love most about Toast at this age is that he is walking the line between these two sides so very well. He loves to be outside, and explore, and I love it when he runs back to me (or hubby) every few minutes to tell us what he's doing, or show me something, or tell me he loves me...then it's off again to whatever he's up to.
My eyes nearly popped out of my head a few weeks ago when we went to the play area at the mall and he actually PLAYED...ran around like a little maniac, instead of sitting by my side saying "mama, you want to go?" and pulling at my hand because he didn't want to go alone.
After leaving the dog, we continued on to the park for lunch. The park we visited has a large wood play structure, one of the very fancy ones with things to climb, crawl through, slide down, investigate, and play on. There are only two entrances, and much of the seating is placed so you can watch both at once. It's marvelous...and Toast was in his element. He took off and explored every last nook and cranny of the place. Every few minutes, I'd just get up and go make sure I could spot him. Invariably he had a huge smile on his face and was either trying to talk up another kid or just walking around happily. I loved seeing him explore everything.
But this post isn't about his changes and his independence. It's about how, as Toast has become MORE independent, I've become more attached.
It was surprisingly hard to let him go yesterday. I knew he was having a great time, but if he was out of eyesight it made me crazy.
He had climbed to the top of a tower and was looking out, as he turned to leave he had two options: walk forward to the stairs and climb down, or walk left, where a fireman's pole was waiting. The decking opened out into nothing so the kids could grab the pole and slide down.
Oh yes, he did. He walked right out into nothing.
I've never moved so fast in my life, watching him drop almost eight feet to the ground. When I got there he had a look on his face like "What the HELL just happened". As I picked him up, he started to cry. It was all I could do not to cry myself. He was fine, not screaming in pain, no blood, no bumps or bruises...just a very scared cry and two little arms that went around my neck and held on tighter than they have before.
If this is parenting, I'm not sure why it doesn't come with a warning label.
We had a cuddle, and some water, and a banana. Then he said "Time to go" and went off to play again. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't stop thinking about this all night last night, and as I went to sleep it dawned on me that he can still wrap his tiny chubby arms around my neck and cry right now. At least we have that. One day he's going to get hurt and that won't be possible....some stupid girl will break his heart, or he won't get something he really wants. He'll fail at something he tries really hard to do well. We all do these things. And then, when I'm not able to hug him tight and soothe him, THEN what am I supposed to do?
This parenting thing? It's hard.