We have a playground 2 blocks from our house. Which is awesome. Awesome swings, awesome slides, awesome monkey bars. And then there’s the Death Star. The Death Star is a blue metal star structure that has ropes stretched from the various points to create a giant spider web type thing. Also, the Death Star is at least a story high. I’m not sure who thought this was a good idea, but he/she obviously does not have a three year old.
Last Friday, Zoey and I were at the park. And, of course, all Zoey wanted to do was climb the Death Star. Zoey’s dearest ambition is to climb to the top of the Death Star. The top which is way way WAY above my head. But like the good parent I am, I repeatedly squash her ambition. I only let Zoey go about half way up the ropes because I am what is known as “safety conscious”. But Zoey was playing with a four year old boy who was allowed to climb to the tippy top of the Death Star. So the boy climbed way way up.
“Look at me!” He shouted. “I’m sooooo high!”
I could see the jealousy on Zoey’s face. She looked at me sideways, hung her head and mumbled, “My mom won’t let me go up there yet. Maybe when I’m bigger . . .”
“But it’s so fun!” shrieked the boy. “Wheeeee!”
Seriously. He literally said Wheeee! Who says that? I mean, I say it. But I’m a nut-burger (Hi Niki!). What kind of kid says it?
Eventually the boy and Zoey climbed down and began to play tag. The boy’s Dad was sitting a few feet from me so I decided to strike up a very reasonable parent-to-parent conversation.
“So, I know this is a weird question*,” I began, “How did you know when your son was ready to climb to the top of the Death Star? Because, really, all I can picture is my daughter’s limp body ricocheting off the ropes until she hits the bottom and splits her head open. Or maybe severs an arm on the ropes on the way down. . .”
“Uh,” said the dad. “Do you mean that thing right there?” Did I mention that I made up the name, Death Star? Yeah, well.
“Yes,” I said nodding toward the evil structure. “That thing.”
“Well, we live near by so he practices a lot and he’s a physical kid to begin with . . . ”
“So,” and for some reason I went on, “Then you don’t worry about his tiny four year old body falling, crashing around on the ropes, and then ending up paralyzed or dead? ”
“Uh,” said the dad for the second time, “I gotta go. I think I see my daughter eating wood chips.”
And even though his one year old was, in fact, eating wood chips, I got the feeling that I had perhaps said too much. There was only one thing I could do to redeem myself.
“Zoey,” I called. “Do you still want to climb to the top of the star?”
So she climbed. Slowly, carefully. She stood on a thin red rope way above my head and shouted, “Ta-da! LOOK AT MEEEE!” I looked and her face was full of pride. “I did it, Mom! Look! Look!”
“I see! I see!” I yelled back, feeling some pride of my own. I waited about .7 seconds and said, “And now it’s time to come down.” Pride only lasts so long.
Once Zoey was safely on the ground I turned back to the Dad. “Did you see that?” I gushed. “Aren’t you proud of me?”
“Uh,” he said for the third time. “Your daughter did very well.”
Ok. Fine. So maybe it was supposed to be her moment. But it was my moment too. She is growing up and trying new things. And I am letting her.
* Clearly I have not yet learned the lesson about not starting conversations with complete strangers that begin with, “I know this is a weird question . . .”