Two Sundays ago, I picked Atticus up from the nursery and we went out the back door of the church, heading for the car. This was a bit of a miscalculation, because it meant that we had to go by the playground, but I decided not to fight it. He loves climbing up the slide, especially, so I let him do that. This was also a miscalculation, because when he climbs up our neighbors’ slide, I can be right there with him to keep him from hurling himself off the edge. The playground equipment at church is much bigger. There are more edges.
I realized my mistake immediately, but the best way to get him to run away is to desperately need for him to do something. This is where it helps to work in a middle school. I played it cool.
It didn’t work.
He did his happy dance at the top of the slide, then ran across the bridge in the middle of the equipment. I tried–a little too intensely–to get him to climb down on the other side of the bridge. Wouldn’t it be fun! To get down over here! Song and dance! Excitement!
I see what you are doing, mama, and I don’t think that would be very fun at all.
He ran back across the bridge, and as I darted over to the platform, he threw himself down the slide. Face first. My heart stopped for one teeny tiny moment and then he got to the bottom and yelled, “WHEEEEEE!”
No harm done. His shirt was very dirty, but when is it not? I laughed in relief, and he laughed at me.
We have ideals, you know. We have given Atticus dolls and books with lady firefighters and a pink pacifier clip. And he holds the dolls and reads the books and does not yet hate the color pink. But the truth is that his favorite toys are already 1. Balls. 2. Trucks. 3. Trains. He runs and throws and bangs and is into everything. Several times a week, one of us will say, “Where did he come from?” I don’t know exactly how Mike and I could have combined to make such a rough-and-tumble boy.
When he was just born, people asked which one of us he looked like, and his Nana would always say, “He looks like himself. He looks like Atticus.” I thought I would recognize more of us in him, in his looks and in his actions. But it is also good to see him simply being himself. We are trying to listen to that.