Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tunnel Vision

This past weekend we took Fred to the park for the first time. He’s only a year old, but he was just a baby last summer, then winter came, this time last month as he began to learn how to walk he got a sick with a bad fever, a cold front sat on top of us for a week…needless to say we thought we’d never get to let him go out. There were a couple of days a few weeks ago in between cold temps and coughs that we managed to get him to a traveling petting zoo, then once Blackberry Winter hit all he could do was just stare out the screen door banging on the glass to be let out into the great wide world.
Finally the perfect weekend came and we went down to a local park that runs along the Tennessee River. Since this was his first park experience we weren’t too sure how he would handle the different types of equipment. The swings bored him, the purple dinosaur with the spring underneath may have confused him (I’m sure purple dinosaur equals Barney in his mind though this thing was a T-Rex and very fierce looking), he gave no love to the teeter-totter, so it was up to the jungle gym bring out a smile.

The thing was monstrous with fireman poles, 6 different slides, 2 tic-tac-toe boards, and a rock-climbing wall. Luckily for us we showed up late in the afternoon and the park wasn’t as crowded as it could have been. Anyways we decided to test out the slide.

It was one of those tube kind that curved a bit, but I sat at the bottom and could see Lucy holding him at the top. He was all grins as he stared down into the tunnel not knowing he was about to be let go. I need to say here that I’m 31 now and I’m gonna guess it’s been about 25 years since a slide sent my heart racing like it did at that moment. Try as she might to get him to lie down, Fred wanted to sit up…so with a silent prayer and every available digit crossed for good luck she let him go. In the time it took him to make it to the bottom I would have guessed that it would have been possible, at least in my mind where time had practically stopped, to single handedly reconstruct a life size replica of Mount Rushmore out of the stones that lined the park. Flashes of baby rolling headfirst end over fragile end kept zipping in front of my eyes like lightning just before a storm.

The storm raging inside as I witness by first born free falling towards me was merely one sided …Fred who had yet to crack a smile during the entire trip around the park enjoyed the slide so much that instead of lunging into my arms begging that neither him nor I ever have to experience such a lack of control ever again, he spun around and attempted to crawl back up to Lucy so he could let go one more time.

I think having a toddler is like Fred going down that slide for the first time…once it’s over with I just know I’m going to want to get back up and do it all over again.

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