These summer hands have been working hard. They’re rough with the callouses of practice and determination. They’re dirty from landing softly in the mulch below over and over. She waits in line as her friends go first. They cross the monkey bars with ease, now. The lanky preschool bodies that kicked and fought their way across a few months ago, now glide through to the other side. Their hands, too, rough with callouses. Their hair, a mix of sunscreen and sweat, sticks to their foreheads. Last in the line, she waits patiently. When it’s her turn, she climbs the ladder carefully. She skips the first bar, putting both hands on the second one. She lets her feet off the last ladder rung, swinging her own lanky preschool body forward. Her hands stay put. Her feet swing back to the ladder where she catches her toes and pushes off again for another forward swing. This time, as she swings forward, she lets the momentum slow. She holds on as tight as her little hands can for as long as her little body can take, ignoring the complaints of the other children who have now formed another line, awaiting their turn. Then, when she just can’t hold on another second, she drops. Stands up. Wipes her sore hands together to free the dirt and mulch and heads to the back of the line. Not defeated, she waits her turn to try again.
“Riley, do you want to cross? I can help you.”
“Mommy, I don’t want to cross.”
“But I think you’re strong enough now. You can do it. I can spot you.”
“No. I’m not ready yet. I’m getting ready, but not yet.”
“Are you afraid you will fall? Because I think if you fall, you would be fine. It’s really not that far.”
“I’m not afraid to fall. I’m just not ready yet.”
Yes. You’re not ready yet. I know that. I’ve known this about you since the beginning. The baby who couldn’t gain weight until she outgrew her reflux. A much younger Riley who wasn’t ready to roll over until the very last week before our appointment to have her evaluated. After she rolled, we moved on to watching the months creep by with no crawling, no pulling up to stand, no walking. I imagine a conversation that that little Riley would’ve been similar to this one.
“Riley, do you want to crawl? I can help you.”
“No, I don’t want to crawl.”
“Are you sure? Look at all the toys you’d be able to reach! You would have so much fun!”
“No, I’m fine sitting here. I don’t want to crawl. I’m not ready yet.”
So we wait. And give her lots of time to practice. And trust her to work it out. We know she will. When she’s ready.