My daughter, Ellie, is 3-years-old. She’s unusually tall for her age. As in, literally off the doctor’s office development chart. She is taller than your 5-year-old son.
When we find a busy playground, like the Ben & Jerry’s park on Free Cone Day, she struggles to find where she fits in. She’s developed her own little survival skills and stands back and waits until she knows she can find a structure to play on where she can take her time, try climbing, or hesitate a few minutes at the top of the slide.
The other kids tend to politely run past her, to carry on like normal 5-year-olds.
So, I wasn’t surprised when your son rushed up behind her on the tire-ladder only to find that she was slowly climbing, focusing on her footing. I cringed as I felt her fear of being rushed when she was still learning, and I waited for your son to climb past her, as any normal 5-year-old would.
Before I could step in to steady her, something happened that stopped me in my tracks.
Your son didn’t rush her. He stopped. He waited, and he noticed something I hadn’t – her blue rain boot was stuck in-between the tires. He carefully removed it for her.
Ellie looked up at me and said, “Mommy! I can’t do this! I can’t climb!”
Before I could find my pom-poms and bring out the “You can do it!” mommy cheering-squad, your son said, “Of course you can! It just takes practice!”
And, with that pep talk, she scrambled to the top with a triumphant smile on her face, while your son made sure she didn’t fall.
Any normal 5-year-old would have then run off to play with his friends. I would expect that. But your son introduced himself to my daughter, said “Follow me!” and gave her the added boost of confidence to run and climb with the big kids, to jump over the wobbly bridge, to fly down the slide.
He asked Ellie how old she was. When she said, “3,” he said, “Oh! My Lizzie is 3,” (how adorable is that?) and found his sister, so that they could all play together.
Maybe some would just see these things as simple gestures of kindness, but to this mom – a mom who very much fears sending her beautiful daughter out into the big-wide-world alone someday, your son’s empathy, patience, and kindness lessened that anxiety for me.
I didn’t want to hold up your busy day to tell you all this on the playground, so I stuttered an inadequate “thank you” and tried to quickly explain that my daughter is sometimes intimidated by the older kids, and that your son was very kind to her.
So, if you’re reading this, Super Mom, I just wanted you to know that I see your amazing parenting skills, that I’m taking notes as I strive to be a better parent, that I noticed, that your kids weren’t just “any normal 5-year-old” or “normal 3-year-old,” that they are, as I’m sure you know, special, unique, kind.