Sunday, 27 November 2011
We were at the nearby playground the other day. Antek is now just over 18 months old, and things that move have started to get exciting. And big vehicles. And also, running up and down. Somehow, not too many things in the playground itself are exciting for him, but lots of stuff around it is, so we go. He loves watching older kids play, and laughs out loud at lots of things they do. Like Leander, he's not too keen on slides - he climbs up, looks down, climbs back down and usually walks away. He doesn't cry anymore when too many kids run past him, but he just walks away and moves closer to us when he's uncomfortable. He doesn't seem to like when things get too much. When stuff is scary. When something is uncomfortable. He stretches his arm out and shakes his head. Like me, he prefers to opt out. I respect that. And I hope he too will respect other people's choices when he gets older.
We were looking at a little girl, maybe a bit younger than Antek, who was quietly playing with little stones. Her mum came over, picked her up and offered to carry her to the slide. The girl was trying to get back down and get back to her pebbles, but mum had decided that slide will be more fun. Once on top of the slide, the girl got scared and started crying. She was trying to get down. Her mum held her and showed her how much fun the slide really is. After about two or three times, the girl started enjoying it, and this time instead of protesting loudly, she laughed out loud and wante to go again, again and again. Until her mum got tired and took her back down to the pebbles. This time, there were tears and not wanting to leave the slide... There were a few times when the girl wanted to opt out, when the emotions were getting too much, when things were too scary to handle. Or too great to leave behind. It's all part of life, but it sure is easier when it's not imposed on you, and when you can at least have a little snippet of a possibility of opting out.
One of my most vivid memories from childhood is a water slide we were on ages ago in Hungary. It was huge. I didn't want to go, but everyone went and I was taken along. I remember standing on top of it, looking down and thinkng that I absolutely need to get down, get back to the stairs and leave. But everyone went, and everyone had fun, and so I did too in the end. I hated it. I remember landing in water convinced that I would drown. I remember being very scared and thinking that something surely must be wrong with me - everyone is having such a great time. This was the last time I have ever been on a water slide. I guess that's something Pawel will have to do with our kids. I don't feel comfortable in water either.
I might be a boring mum. But that day, walking home from the playground I decided (again) I prefer it that way. I prefer the quiet joys of playing in the pebbels, from the emotional rollercoaster of the tears of fear mixed with the tears of joy on the slide. I like peace. I like when things happen because they are naturally meant to happen, not because someone makes decisions for me. And I like my choice for not doing something to be respected. Sure, slides are fun. Water slides are probably fun too, but I never had a chance to have fun on one. Maybe we don't need an emotional rollercoaster to see how much fun something is. Maybe it's ok to wait until we are ready for the fun... after all, isn't that what makes it fun?