Monday, September 10, 2007

Pushing forward, pulling back

Other parents are always telling me how their child is a daredevil too, how their son or daughter runs off from them or seeks to conquer stairs, or chairs, or streets without their help. They tell me this because they see Sam out in front of us at Target, pulling things off shelves and declaring that we obviously need to by that fuschia bathmat.

What other parents don't see is that Sam is quite tentative. Sure, he occasionally opens the front door and runs up the street while I'm upstairs, causing his poor, tired, weak father to have a heart attack after frantically running through the house screaming his name. But he only pulls those stunts when he feels comfortable in his environment. Get him around new people in a new place and he is clingy. He'll sit demurely next to me and shyly smile when spoken to. Then, after he's been there for a while, he'll feel comfortable enough to pull the books off the shelves and read himself "Babar" out loud. Sam extroversion is a constant tide, ebbing and flowing in and out. I've been fascinated by this aspect of his personality for some time (primarily because I see so much of my own proclivities reflected in it) and I finally got photographic proof. Here is Sam over Labor Day weekend at a local park:

We love this park partly because it looks like a Monet painting, but also because it has a wonderful playground, a pretend frontier village, and a huge pond you can stroll around and even fish in. Right through the middle of that pond is this series of stepping stones. The pond itself isn't deep; if you fell off the stones, you would only go in waist-deep at the most. The stones are close enough together for children to run across if they so desire (another heart attack inducing experience, I'm sure). In other words, it is fairly safe, as these types of bridges go. Of course I wanted Sam to walk across the water, as it were, and as you can see, he wasn't sure of himself or his feet at first. He even stepped into the water once on accident. But once he was comfortable and felt sure of his surroundings, I could barely keep up with him:
Pushing forward, pulling back. I'm sure it's only beginning.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

You forgot "old" in the "poor, tired, weak old father" mantra.

I'm curious as to what factors make kids cautious in some situations and fearless in others. With Eli, it shows up most in how he talks to strangers. Normally he greets anyone and everyone he sees, telling the family next to ours in the restaurant about his green aliens. And then he'll turn around and hide behind me when someone new comes up to talk to us.