Have you ever watched a toddler’s first steps on the ice? I did today. I mean, I have witnessed it before but forgot the array of feelings said inauguration stirs up. The anticipation of what was about to happen lived somewhere in the middle of fear (the toddler was my niece – i.e. handle with more care) and exuberant glee. There is nothing better than witnessing a “first!” Add a side of privileged guilt to that momentary bag of feelings. If only I could have beamed over my sister & her husband, our parents, their friends & neighbors plus anyone feeling a bit blue to be with me for this moment in time. The only thing better than feeling the feelings is sharing the feelings…especially the funny ones!
It was all the things a first step on ice with new walking legs should be: tentative, exciting, risky, suspicious, comical, messy, wet, cold, interesting – repeat. repeat. repeat. repeat. Then, wait for it. Probably some repeating still happening. Mastery. (Kind of…) The electric storm of learning happening inside her little brain reverberated like a superhero hitting the ground at warp speeds then rising up suddenly with assuredness and stability. She knows something new now. The slow rise of the pair of over-grown spider leg lashes flapped up and stayed open (for an uncomfortably long time!) revealing that truth.
“I love it and will keep playing here until I decide otherwise” was another truth I was happy to witness and oblige. Play is a right, you know! Once her toddler skinny jeans were fully soaked through and the ice puddle water was weighing down her saggy diaper – I put on my grown-up pants and did the proper aunt thing and offered her a cookie. We walked away from the cement-colored inch of ice mush feeling great about ourselves with a mutual understanding that life will never be the same. She started on the ice like a baby giraffe and came off of it like a penguin.
Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.Fred Rogers