Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Grip And Determination

Yesterday we returned to the scene of one of my son’s great triumphs.

Probably not very significant to him, or to anyone else, but one of the things that really pleased me to see.

No one else would have actually noticed, and he did not even know that I was watching him - which makes it even better – he only discovered that later through the heaping-of-praise-process.

It was actually during the last of his half-term holidays, when we were off on a day out with friends, and other children, from our village.

We did not go far, to a local park, that has a multitude of play areas, for all the different age groups, and can mean gaining extended attention from young ones, as they simply move on to the next area when fed up.

Even Granddad was impressed with it yesterday.

“This is the best park I have ever been to.” He said, sounding more six than sixty.

Back in October, not that it seems to make much difference here, and there had been a lot of rainfall. So I had put my son in his wellies, packing his shoes just in case we went inside anywhere that muddy plastics were not welcome.

True to form the children, Max being the youngest, were intrigued by one set of play equipment for ten minutes, then wanted to get off to explore the next collective.

That meant the three of us accompanying parents also became a team, trying to keep an eye on all of them, and shepherd them, and their equipment, safely to the next area.

It was interesting for me to see how, even with older kids, that you need to keep your wits about you.

But I had a gold star as Max was wearing his luminous jacket, making him easier to pick out quickly.

These different play areas are built on a hill, meaning they are split over different levels, linked by paths, ramps and the odd slide.

And we know how much my boy loves slides.

One of these slides is built into, and flanked by, that spongy, plasticy, safe-fall stuff they have in playgrounds. This means there is a steep slippy surface each side of the one that the children are actually supposed to use for sliding on.

They also try and use these slopes to get back to the top of the slide, or indeed, back to the different play area.

Well, it is like a five metre walk to the steps for this thing.

Anyway the lower level fun zone had served its time, the kids were bored of it, and wanted to return to the previous. In turn this meant they went off bounding right up, yes, you have guessed it, the slippery not-intended-for-walking-on surface.

Max was at the back, a combination of age, size and footwear making him the slowest.

The others were quickly up the slope, and off playing elsewhere, without much concern for being a man down.

I thought about going to his aid, as I was not very far away, but hesitated, instead choosing to see what he did, knowing he was extremely unlikely to come to any harm under my gaze.

Plastic on wet plastic did not make for good grip, and my boy was not making great progress.

He was shouting for the others, without panic, but they did not return to his aid. The spider-like climbing frame they had attached themselves to was far more interesting.

I slowly made my way over to my son, I could see he was not panicking, but expected to be helping him up the surface or directing him to use the appropriate steps upon arrival.

However, before I got close enough for him to notice me, he had actually adjusted his feet, and technique, and was making headway up to the top of the small but steep incline.

So, instead of offering help, or encouragement, I took the proper steps with the intention of meeting him at the top.

We arrived at the same time, him ready to run off and join his friends, me ready to cry, overcome with proudness. The compromise was a huge hug, a well done, and an explanation from me as to why I was so proud of him.

A relatively small accomplishment, yet signifying so much more.

I was glad to be reminded of it yesterday.

But not to be reminded that I have a list of blog topics as old as that, which I have done nothing with.

I might need to borrow some of my boy’s resolve, meaning I get to the end of the list, eventually. Share/Save/Bookmark


Not a soccer mom said...

What a beautiful account. You are doing a great job. I have felt this exact same eagerness to help, chose to stand back, then felt the same amount of pride that you describe.
I too find myself late into the night writing my blog about events with my children, and never getting to it. Knowing I am not alone in that is a bit refreshing.
I really love reading your male view of parenthood.

Liz@Violet Posy said...

You're doing a great job, it's so hard to know when to step back and let them figure it out themselves. I must admit I find it really hard and then have to remind myself that at 5 I could climb a tree, ride a bike and if I got hurt 2 minutes later I was over it. But not easily done when they are at the top of a slide or climbing frame 15 feet up! Btw that park sounds amazing! :)

phenomenalmama said...

The sign of a truly great parent is being able to give your child space enough to (safely) figure out the world on his or her own.

Good for you! :)

dadshouse said...

Great story. What a proud moment. You handled it perfect, letting him figure things out on his own. Quick hug, then off to the next adventure.

Laura said...

These moments are just the best!

When you watch them persevere and get it right!

Well done dad and Max ;)

T said...

Aw! Sweet SMART boy!!

Single Parent Dad said...

Not a soccer mom - Thank you. I am enjoying getting it out there.

Violet Posy - It was more luck, and then judgement. The park is pretty good.

Phenomenalmama - Thanks.

Dadshouse - Cheers. But maybe not perfectly, I'd put him in the wellies in the first place!

Laura - Simple, but very, very uplifting.

T - Indeed he is.

Whit said...

That's always hard to give them the chance to do or fail, but they need it.

Good luck on that list thing. I'm a firm believer in it being impossible.

Working mum said...

That's great. Sounds like he has developed some self confidence and physical maturity. My daughter doesn't do climbing; spinning and whizzing, yes, but climbing, no. I'm still working on that one.

Single Parent Dad said...

Whit - Agreed, probably on both scores.

Working Mum - Encouraging climbing? Barmy if you ask me ;-)

Jo Beaufoix said...

God it's a 'moment' when you see them struggle, then think, and then work something out. It bodes well for the future doesn't it. Go Max. And well done Daddy too. :D

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

Well done, Max! And that park sounds fantastic.

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