This is one of those “mouths of babes” stories. Or maybe it is just a reminder of how much I can learn from my children or in this case my grandson if I just pay attention.
The little guy spent the day with me. His mother had called saying the little guy wasn’t feeling 100% and she thought he needed a day with Papa. Well she didn’t need to ask twice.
We spent the day reading and playing and having a good time together. I used every opportunity that I could to teach him something. But the real learning came when we visited the school playground next door.
The school’s play equipment was clearly built for bigger children, after all the little guy doesn’t turn 3 until the end of October. He will go to this school eventually but that is probably another three years away. I thought that some of the challenges on this apparatus were too tough for him but he didn’t always agree with me.
My lesson came when he decided to take on one of the ladders. This wasn’t a vertical ladder or even inclined but one of those curved ladders shaped like a quarter circle. This one was over his three foot tall head and he was determined to use it to get to the platform for the “big slide”.
So up he climbed. The vertical first section didn’t slow him down at all and the curved section only a little. But then came the challenge. The last three rungs went horizontal. There he was with two feet on one rung and two hands on the next. I was standing next to the ladder so I could rescue him if he needed me and trying very hard not to show the fear for him that I was feeling.
I watched as he figured it out and that is when my lesson began. He tentatively reached out testing the stretch for the next rung. As he looked through the ladder to the ground below, I heard him say to himself, “I’m not going to fall”. Then he looked at me and reassured me, “I’m not going to fall, Papa.” And he went forward one rung.
One more rung and he would be on the platform. There he was again - two feet on one rung and two hands on the next. He reached out to the last rung, balancing on one hand and his two feet. “No problem here” he announced and went for it. The last step was scrambling onto the platform. He hopped up onto his feet and jumped in the air shouting “I did it.” All I could say after I exhaled my held breath was, “Yes, you did, little guy. Good work.”
“Wahoo”, he called as he slid down the big slide.
We had a great day together. After his mother picked him up I collapsed in my chair exhausted. As I replayed the day in my mind, I chuckled to myself. It had taken a 2 year-old child to remind me of a lesson I had tried to teach his mother as she was growing up - the importance and the power of positive self talk.