Yesterday after work, we took the kids to a local playground for some good-natured goofing off in the warm sunshine. The weather is supposed to turn back to cool and cloudy in a couple of days. Jillian ran around and tried to replace all the loose gravel back in to the play area--one gravel at a time. She worked for a very long time on this task. She shows signs of real determination (stubborness.)
Eli desided he would climb the "rock wall." He loves these and usually attempts them. Most children's "walls" are generously sloped for better gripping and only 5-6 feet tall. This allows a parent to "spot" the climber to prevent falls.
The wall E attempted was at least 10 feet high. It was designed so the child could dismount onto a raised platform only 6 feet up. The first 3 times he climbed it, he used this approach. I spotted him and things were fine. He really didn't need any assistance, but I felt better providing a Papa safety net.
Attempt 4 was more adventurous. E climbed straight up and said he was going over the wall. The last 2.5 to 3 feet I could only touch the bottoms of his shoes as he struggled to throw his leg over the top of the wall and then hoist himself over.
I cannot describe the sensation of wanting to keep him safe and yet being so very proud of his adventurous spirit and obvious strength and coordination that was lifting him to conquer a challenge. Impressive for any 3 year-old, I think. A voice of panic kept rising in my throat and yet the will to act kept it from escaping my mouth. It was a most terrific and exilerating sensation that literally swept over my whole self in wave after wave.
Having clambered over the top, he looked down with an expression of joy and pride.
And as I stood there, I realized my hands were still stretching up to hold him...
...then the swurling thought that accompanied the panic/pride solidified into a crystaline form. This is the rest of my life with my boy. I will always have to balance his need for assistance with his need to attempt. I must provide support while allowing him to struggle. This panic/pride sensation will be the emotional soundtrack of my role as his Papa.
After descending the slicky-slide, he started climbing again. "Help me, Daddy," he said. At the crucial last 3 feet of his second ascent, I prayed, "Help me, Father..."