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Conquering fears and soaring to new heights while Mommy panics

Submitted by on Monday, 2 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published May 27, 2008, thehive.modbee.com

It took Big Guy four years, nine months and 17 days, but he finally managed to scare the living crap out of me.

He’s been through three surgeries, the first when he was just shy of three months old. I had no choice but to handle it – I couldn’t fall apart when he needed me.

He was near anaphylactic shock from eating egg at 10 months. I had to keep it together – his life depended on quick action.

But now, in the safety of our back yard, watching him swinging so high he’s almost parallel to the ground at the top of his ascent stops my heart.

It’s perfectly safe. He’s going to be fine. I bite my tongue while my brain screams, “For God’s sake, slow it down before you fall out of there and bash your head in!”

Part of my freak-out is because there’s nothing I can  do. With the surgeries and allergy issues, I knew my role. Stay calm, get help and comfort him.

This time, it’s him and the swing, soaring to dizzying heights and loving every giant swoop. There’s nothing I could or should do to stop it.

It’s one of those “be careful what you ask for” moments. I wanted to raise kids who are fearless within the bounds of common sense. I’ve encouraged them to try things and keep at it when they want to quit.

Big Guy’s back-yard loop de loops are a byproduct of that philosophy.

We’ve had the swing set since he was 2. It was a consolation prize for having Little Guy foisted on him. “Yes, I know That Baby has ruined your life, but look! Mommy bought you a nice big toy!”

That first summer, he wasn’t interested in much but the glider.

The second year, he was all over the slide and tentatively tried the swing, but he still needd to be pushed.

Third year, he scampered like a monkey, hanging from every bar and climbing every where imaginable. He couldn’t muster enough of a pumping motion to keep the swing going and was a little afraid if his feet were too far off the ground.

I wasn’t worried – developmentally, he shouldn’t be able to do it for another year anyway. It frustrated Big Guy so much, though, that I was ready to dismantle the swing set.

About a month ago, everything clicked for him, thanks to a tutorial when we went to a park with two cousins and an 8-year-old friend of theirs who could float through the air with the greatest of ease. He watched her soar above the others, a mix of admiration, envy and annoyance on his face.

Big Guy hates being bested at anything. That’s not a trait I’ve encouraged. I’d tried for a while to rein it in before finally accepting that hyper-competitiveness simply is part of his nature. I’ve resigned myself now to the fact that the best I can hope for is to curb its anti-social tendencies.

Faced with kid doing something he couldn’t, his hyper-competitive streak kicked into hyper-overdrive. He studied her carefully and imitated. By the end of the day, he could put together a respectable string of push-free swinging.

For days after, he was obsessed. No time to play in the mud or annoy his brother. He had to learn to swing as high as the 8-year-old.

It was tempting to lie when he kept asking “Am I as high as S yet?” His feet were barely clearing the ground. He would have known I was lying the second the slightest prevarication crossed my lips.

“Not yet, but you’re getting better,” I said.

Which wasn’t good enough.

By the end of the week, he was swinging as high as S and then some. He sails to such lofty heights that she’s not even his goal anymore. He’s focused on reaching a neighbor’s grape vines that have climbed over the back of our fence. Oh, terrific.

Hey, would you slow that thing down! I feel the gray hair multiplying by the minute.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved

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  • Genevieve said:

    Hah! I’d have gray hair too from that. My oldest is careful and more calm. My youngest is putting me through some similar moments as this thought.

    Great read — cracking up over here. I remember trying to touch the clouds with my feet – or the tree branches. I won’t share that with big guy though. ;)

  • Debra (author) said:

    “I’m definitely not telling Big Guy. There’s only so much Lady Clarol in the world!

    The scariest part: Big Guy IS my calm one. Little Guy has nerves of steel — went down the “”tall slide”" at the neighborhood park when he was barely 1. This kid’s gonna be the death of me.”