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Mario in the playground

A few days back we graduated from going to the beach for our evening outings, to going to the park, and it was as if the little one was going to a public school after being home taught. For the past 18 months of his life he had been content in knowing that he was the only baby around, he happily went around collecting his sea shells and stones at the beach, and the sudden change to seeing swings of every size and shape, moving in all sorts of directions , with children of every size and temperament on them , had him stunned to stillness for a while.
 For the first few days he was content at playing with the stones at the park, doing acticities he was familiar with at the beach, but Mama wanted more. Mama wanted her little boy to discover new skills- and he did.

Soon , Shreysht started climbing up the steps of the play gym, one step at a time. I was filled with growing pride, as my 19 month old, navigated climbing up and down on his own.

Now a little about this play gym. It is a strategically designed set, with steps leading up to a slide, and a bridge. The bridge in turn connects to two more steps, which lead to a tunnel, and another bridge, as well as a slide, the second bridge again ascends another level, which again diversifies into three diferent sets of slides.

For days on end , the little one ascended only to level 1 steps, and sometimes sat on the first bridge, and then one day he hoisted himself, all limbs in play, onto the next level!

 It had me gasping, both at his physical strength as well as the dangers which lurked on level 2.

  He decided to take the path through the plastic tunnel, and came out on the other side to be faced by a steep slide, and a straight drop down. He decided the straight drop down would be perfect for his mothers heart.
 As he hurled himself into my outstretched arms, I knew I had but only myself to blame.i was the one who had wanted him to learn new activities, expand his horizon.

Now he wanted to try it again, and again, with the words ‘up, up’. I tried to explain to him the dangers of falling .
 He knew the words, ‘fall down’ but till not it had meant him stumbling over his own toddling self, not hurtling down 6 feet from a park swing. 
‘Fall doooowwwwwwnnnnn ‘ I stretched my down to suggest how much further he would fall. Then tried the ‘faaaaallllllll dooooowwwwnnnn’ stretching out my fall for added effect of the calamity we would face.

He thought it was a game, and repeated ‘doooooooowwwwnnnn’ . not funny.
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And then yesterday he decided that mama’s heart needed the extra work, he decided to ascend to level 3. 

He was beyond the reach of my out stretched arms, I had no control on his movements up there. Almost instantly, my nanny was up one side, while I ascended the other, until we wrestled him down to the ground.

I call this play gym contraption super Mario . like the video game from our childhood, where each level led to exhilaraton, and added difficult quests and raised stakes. With each level Shreyu ascended, he learnt knew skills, of crawling through tunnels, or walking across swinging bridges, and it filled me with equal parts pride and joy, and equal parts nerve wracking fear for his safety.

As he learns new skills as a 19 month old, I learn new skills as a parent, that of learning when to hold on, and when to let go. As he tests new frontiers in life, I will always be proud of his achievements, while silently praying he doesn’y fall, always laying safety nets wherever I can, and walking behind him with outstretched arms, as he navigates life and it’s various levels.


I looked around the park, and saw most of the mothers chatting on the park benches, and the dads walking the perimeter for exercise. I realised that I time would soon come when he would be running up and down this play gym with friends of his own, as they played, catch and cook, and I would be (happily) sitting on the bench. 

As I look around the park and my boy, a million thoughts run through my head, like , did I do right to bring him to the park, should I be taking him to a more safe indoor play gym, is he putting that stone in his mouth, and how long would this carefree childhood last in this day and age of cut throat competition and academic pressure. 

But I leave all that for another blog, and another time, I run with outstretched arms after my little Mario.

If you feel I share too much online about my child read HERE

Comments

Aloka Hedau said…
Just loved this one! Reminded me of similar experiences with Ansh! One day though he did fall dooooowwwnn...not from a big height but that was enough to make him phobic of slides for a long long time! It lovely to get involved with their pranks and let them play with the dirty sand!

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