Once upon a time, I was expecting our Hattie with enormity. By that, I both mean that I was hugely excited, and also that I was huge.
|I give you: exhibit A.|
Bill had a work meeting in a far off land (Ogden), so the kids and I got up very early in the AM to drop him off at the train. So I decided as a fun impromptu treat to take the kids to McDonalds for breakfast and to let them play for a while.
We got there so early that there were no other children—but more than a few senior citizens—and so after their breakfast, the kids got to play alone on the play structure (what Bill calls the "big toy") for a good 20 minutes before more kids came. It was such a treat for me! A quiet play experience at McDonalds? Nirvana!
Finally, other kids did show up. But the kids that come in the morning are MUCH calmer and nicer than the lunch crowd, I've decided.
Henry decided in an impressive burst of courage that he wanted to go on The Big One. The large "two story" twisty slide that began at the top, bypassed the middle, and ended all the way back at ground level next to the shoe time-out. Wyatt kindly offered to show his brother how to make the climb. Henry followed him all the way to the top where he promptly dropped to his stomach, clung to the plastic, porous floor and was stuck.
Henry is afraid of heights. Like me.
When he got to the top, and he could look down and see how high up he was (Was that Mom way down there, peering up at him, the size of an ant?) and the big dark gaping O mouth of the slide, Henry got wise. There was no. Freaking. Way.
He hugged himself to the platform, his little fingers clinging through the little holes, and cried.
I was, if you recall, NOT the size of an ant. I was the size of a whale.
I tried sending both Wyatta nd Daphne up to help him, but Henry is nothing if not stubborn, and only shrieked louder for all their attempts.
There was even a nice older boy who saw our situation and offered to carry him down, but Henry screamed at him when he tried to approach. If you are a boy who is older, but still pretty young and you are met with a terrified and SCREAMING Henry, nobody blames you for backing slowly away. Henry's screams pack a mean punch.
The thing that made me screw up my face the most, however, were the other moms. There were a few of them, grouped together on the other side of the seating area. They watched me and sniggered. It wasn't the gentle laugh of understanding that often passes between mother to mother strangers when one of the children is causing the kind of trouble that is all to familiar to all mothers. The hang in there Mama, you've got this and we've all been there! laugh.
No, this was the self-righteous no kid of mine would ever create that gawd-awful sound, glad I'm not you type of laugh. No comaraderie. No apologetic glance. And, more to the point, NO HELP.
Finally, faced with no other option, I hauled my adult-sized pregnant-bellied self up the winding play structure, doing my best to ignore the now fully audible sniggering below me (in full view, I feared, of my currently unforgiving backside), and saved my son.
His little fingers only released their power grip on the platform when they darted toward me to cling around my neck. His wails turned to sobs. His face was red and his eyes were wild. His hair sweaty. Descending the play structure with my boy wrapped around my unyielding frame was no easy feat. By the time I made it back to my booth, I was exhausted, red faced and sweaty myself.
We sat there together for a time, holding each other. I spoke soft and low in his year, I've got you. Your'e okay. I get it, I don't like heights either. And his softening sobs unknowingly whispered to my heart, I've got you, too, Mom. Those moms over there might have thought you were ridiculous, but not me. Thank you for coming for me.
And it came to me then, one of those unsuspecting life lessons. I knew in that moment that no matter who was watching or laughing, and no matter what impossible obstacle; I would always be there for my kids if ever they found themselves a little bit stuck.