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Shock the monkey, I can’t change what’s coming

Editor’s note: This post is part of our Pulling the Plug series!

My focus this Lenten season has been to let go of my worries. Yep, I’m giving up the anxiety, saying adios to the plaguing doubt. And it is actually going pretty well. But the cold, hard truth of the matter is that sometimes, it is just really difficult to accept that you cannot change what is coming.

When Little Son was about a year old, I started to notice that he was freakishly strong. Getting him into a car seat became a power play. If I hesitated for one instant, he would spring up and onto the door frame. He would hang there against the glass, smiling and so pleased with himself.

By the time he was 3, I decided to put those muscles to work for me. He started carrying the groceries inside, easily managing a gallon of milk with one arm. And boy, was I grateful! It was so hot that summer, and I had to carry She-Who-Refused-to-Walk everywhere. I was pooped.

That was also the year he discovered the monkey bars on the school playground. He could get on and hold himself up but hadn’t yet mastered swinging his body. So for three years, I have held his legs, supporting his body as he works his arms, moving him back and forth, back and forth across the bars.

He has grown so much these last three years. He still carries in groceries for me, runs the vacuum and he loves to dust. He can write his letters and count to 30 and is starting to get the hang of sight read

ing. But he still can’t do those dang monkey bars. He has been afraid to swing his body while letting go with one hand. I have explained that it is only a two-foot drop and even if – even if – he falls it isn’t going to hurt when he lands in the six inches of rubber tire shred. I keep telling my little giant, “All you have to do is let go.”

He is growing and changing SO quickly that I feel like I am caught in some crazy paradox. I want him to grow up and mature and become a good man. But on the other hand, I sure miss my sweet baby boy who used to love to hold my hand and give me kisses. Now, I have to trade him computer time or a piece of candy for them.

I sent Little Son to his room after I caught him trying to use long toys to extend his reach and push the garage door button last week.

“I can do it!” he wailed.

“The fact that you’re whining about not getting to open a door proves to me that you are not ready to do it,” I pipe back. “You are too young to open doors and go outside without an adult. Go to your room.”

When the Hubs came into the living room, I demand that he go talk to his son about what he can and cannot do.

“But I told him he could,” the Hubs says. “I knew where he was going and I was going to come out right after him. He is almost 6. You can’t be afraid to let him grow up, Melanie. You have to let him do more things.”

No, no I do not. He is my baby. I grew him inside me, and I let them cut me open from hip to hip to pull him out safely.

But I also ask him to help me do so much because he is a “big” boy. He is confused about the rules and why they keep changing, and so am I. The Hubs is starting to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Whaw-wha-whawww. Punctuated by “be encouraging,” “focus on what he does right,” “build him up,” “try new things.” Whaw-wha-whawww.

On Monday, we stayed at school to play on the playground. He jumped right onto the monkey bars and began to swing from grip to grip, all on his own. He was so proud, y’all. And I was too! We have been trying for so long! I took pictures, I cheered, called the Hubs and my folks.

But in almost the same instant, I had to fight the urge to knock him down and tell him he isn’t ready to swing on his own, that Mommy will help him do it. Is it that physical closeness I am missing, or my ability to calm his fears with my voice and touch? Or is it his wanting my help that I need so badly? And why, oh, why, is it so hard for me to just let go?

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