Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tough Day

Poor Ethan - it broke my heart.

Yesterday at the park he was confronted with the harsh reality that not everyone is going to be his friend. The first time it happened, that morning, it made him cry (which very nearly made me cry). In the afternoon, he tried without success to get the attention of a group of much older children, but they were too busy playing tag to notice him. He finally adapted by pretending they were monsters in his tree house, and it seemed to work out well for him.

For the first time yesterday, he took a pretty serious tumble. Lest you think I am a neglectful and stupid mother for letting him climb like he does, I must tell you that Ethan has always been inordinately afraid of getting hurt. He won't go anywhere near anything hot, or anything that looks remotely dangerous (even if it's actually not), and I've never had a problem with him going anywhere near the street. It took him a long time to work up the courage to climb at all over at our park. For this reason, I've mostly felt comfortable letting him set his own limits at play, since he's always had a very keen sense of where those limits are (with Aidan, it will be a very different story).

Having laid down my defense in advance, I can now tell you what happened.

After his nap, we headed back over to the park for more playtime. Two little girls (6-ish - maybe 7?) and their mother arrived shortly after we did, and proceeded to work on some gymnastics moves on a bar, flipping around and so forth, with the mother reminding them of the pointers their teacher had given them. One of them proceeded to swing across the monkey bars while her sister took her turn on the bar, and Ethan, extrovert that he is, was right there with them, watching every move, and telling them about anything and everything that popped into his head, to my chagrin. I pulled him away briefly, knowing that not everyone likes to be subjected to my son's stream of consciousness, but when he saw that the monkey bars were free, he ran back over to try to swing across them himself, as he'd seen the girl do.

I was pushing Aidan in the swings at the time, as that's all he ever wants to do anymore at the park. I turned around just in time to see Ethan hit the ground on his back. The other mom was picking him up and dusting him off by the time I got over to him, but he was badly shaken and a little bruised. We sat on a bench for quite some time, letting him catch his breath and making sure all was well, checking him over for broken bones or sprains or...heck, I don't know...anything that would require a trip to the ER. Finally he felt well enough to get down, and swore he'd never get up on the monkey bars again.

Adding insult to injury, I overheard the other mom telling her little girl, "Well, when you were little like that, you didn't climb up so high that you would fall and get hurt." Unsure of whether she meant it to be overheard (I kind of think yes, because she certainly wasn't taking any pains to be quiet) I seethed, but kept it to myself, and made a mental note that I didn't want to be friends with this judgmental woman ever, which is probably moot because she probably wouldn't be friends with the likes of me anyway, but it made me feel better to tell myself that.

I then caught Ethan trying to pedal home on his tricycle, and I told him he could go home if he wanted, but that he would have to wait for me to get Aidan and come with him, and he chose to stay. We were there for at least another hour, and before we left, he had summoned his courage and tried the monkey bars again, making sure he didn't stray far from the platform.

I'm proud of what he accomplished yesterday. From rising above the pain of rejection to make his own fun, to moving on from swearing off monkey bars forever, and being brave enough to try it again.


Jamie said...

I'm glad Ethan wasn't hurt. Don't give that mother's comments another thought. Ida has been doing things that other children won't or can't for quite some time. I get looks often. But not all children can or can not do the same things. Like your son, Ida has a grasp on her limits for the most part.

And I have a feeling with boys, falling and getting hurt just might be a common thing.

Kerrie said...

Oh heavens yes, ignore the snotty woman! My children routinely escape my line of vision and fall off things - unlike either Ethan or Ida they believe they have NO limitations and will try anything. I simply can't keep up with them.
I admire you for just getting out there so often with 3 active little boys - it's tough!