Tuesday, August 2, 2011

on dangling


So much of parenting is hard.

They don't tell you that, when you're pregnant. Just like they don't tell you how much childbirth hurts, or what it's like to look down and see your guts sitting on a table. The answer, in case you're wondering, is that it's actually really fascinating, because intestines are cool.

At the very most, they write, "It's the hardest job you'll ever love," or, "It goes by so quickly; cherish it."

Which, frankly, wouldn't be nearly as helpful as "always point the peeper down before diapering," or "there's a reason they make nipple balm, and you're going to find out why."

But one thing they rarely tell you is this:

Sometimes, your kid is going to fail. And it will suck.

Today I watched my son fall down on the playground. Three times. From the same three-foot platform. He's even got a bruise on his forehead, in that picture up there.

"I am big boy," he said. "My do it myself."

"Dude, monkey bars are bad news," I answered. "Don't dangle."

"Okay. I won't."

Patter-patter-patter-patter-patter.

"What are you doing, son?"

"I dangle."

I dropped my book and scramblde across the playground, heart in throat, arriving just in time to watch him splat on the bark nuggets.

But you know what?

Each time, he got right back up and said, "I okay." And kept going.

But it gets harder. The biscuit is having her first week at Kindergarten. She gets on a bus, does stuff for seven hours, and comes home. It's hard to get a straight answer about what happens there. So far, I've heard that she's got a coach named Boomer just like in Sky High and that they lost a kid in the bathroom and probably never found him again.

She's 4 days shy of the cut off date. That means that she's the youngest kid in her class. Most of the kids are already five, and some are six. She's still four. She's tiny, and vulnerable, and overly optimistic. And I was a little scared to send her to school, for so many reasons, most of them having to do with my own elementary school tragicomedy. What if the other kids are mean to her? What if she hates it? What if her teacher is half demon?

But I put her on that bus anyway.

Because I believe that you have to let your kids try the things that scare them.

And scare you.

Maybe I wouldn't give the boy so much freedom on the playground if it was over cement or went up really high. But I think a kid's got a right to dangle, and a right to fall on cushy bark chips, and a right to get right back up again. Hell, I admire him for it, even if it takes a year off my life.

And as for the Biscuit, I'm her cushy bark. The moment something goes wrong, I'll be here to catch her and help her find her feet, and if public Kindergarten isn't the right answer, I'll keep looking until we find it.

So there's my advice for the night.

Let your kids dangle.

And if you ever get to see your intestines on a table, take a damn picture. I wish I had.

3 comments:

stephanie constantin said...

I must say that watching you with your kids has helped me chill and let mine be more adventurous, so thanks :)

Jon Plsek said...

I don't have kids, but this one got to me...this story is special...

Tarah said...

Love this story - thanks for sharing!