Today was what I would class as a perfect or near perfect day. We had made plans but these fell through. So what to do instead? We decided to brave the park this morning on a whim as the weather was fine and the wind was low. We recently discovered a beautiful large park nearby which we have not visited often as it has a lot of things in it that were too much for a small toddler. It is called an adventure playground and for a good reason: It is an adventure playground paradise for kids!
By nature and personality Joshua has always been a shy child. It often takes a few times for him to get used to something before he warms to it. I remember the first time his Daddy flew him up into the air at a couple of months of age, being lifted gently just above Daddy’s head. Joshua was momentarily quiet, but soon his bottom lip poked out and tears followed. It took a few goes before he started enjoying it and this quickly progressed to his laughing at being launched into the air. I should have known then that the child that we were given is a gentle soul that needs time to adjust to new situations before enjoying them.
Months ago, trips to a park would have involved Joshua being reticent to play and explore independently; rather leading us by his hand to play together. He was not confident to go down a slide or climb equipment on his own. To be fair to Joshua it has been partly that I have accompanied him as I was concerned for his safety, feeling that he was not steady enough to venture off on his own. Often there are older children and I fear he will be pushed over by them or bullied. In the last few months I have come to the realisation that he needs to learn on his own how to handle himself in situations (within reason) and to come to me if he needs help. He needs opportunities to problem solve, to socialise, to work out if he gets stuck how to get out of it, and to not always rely on me to help him. All of this might seem easy and obvious but it is difficult to brush off an upset and clingy child.
So I decided just to let him go. Today Joshua pulled at me to play with him and I said “I’m following”. And so I followed. Slower and slower. Then finally I was not following at all and this is what happened.
What have I learned?
- Trust – Joshua is capable of climbing up and down and sliding without my help. He is very able and probably one of the safest climbers I have ever seen. I say this without exaggeration, he has had so much practice partly because we have stairs at home. I need to trust that I have put in the time and he now has the skills to handle climbing alone (within reason of course). The trust also extends to the other children in the park. They have generally been well behaved and have actually stopped when they see Joshua and waited for him even though he is smaller and slower than they are.
- Patience – Joshua might not be the most adventurous (he isn’t going to be the kid up the front throwing himself headfirst into an activity) but he will be the child that plans and executes activities with his friends when he is older. He will be the person they look to logistically to get things done.
- Let go – part of my job is to give Joshua the skills he needs and then step back and let him go.
There will be other days when he doesn’t throw himself into activities and clings to me for comfort. All too soon these days will pass and he will no longer need me so much so I am cherishing this time when he still does.
Thank you for making today the perfect day Joshua. Mama loves you.