The children’s museum was buzzing with excitement about the new play area. Jackson ran as fast as he could to the new treehouse and began climbing the stairs, which appeared a bit too steep for two year olds to climb on their own.
“Wait for me!” I called. “Don’t fall!” I moved quickly to get behind him before he managed to get very high up the steps.
Jackson teetered up the steps and we crawled into the child-sized treehouse. Sunlight streamed in through the circular windows and the noise of the crowded play area seemed far away. I could smell the cedar planks of the walls.
I turned around just in time to see Jackson disappear into a built-in tunnel.
“Wait for me!” I ducked my head and crawled into the tunnel behind him.
“Slide!” Jackson called out in delight. Just out of my reach, he toddled toward the top of what appeared to be a very steep slide, the kind with bumps built in.
“Wait!” I scuttled up behind him. “Ride with Mommy, okay? It’s too fast!” I reached for Jackson, but he scooted away, closer to the top of the slide.
“No! I ride!” Jackson struggled to get his clunky snow boots in front of him, and I scooped him up and sat him on my lap.
Before he could get terribly upset about riding with me, we slid down the slide, shouting,”Wee!” As we cruised down I thought to myself, This is way too fast for an indoor slide! What were they thinking, installing this here? We landed at the bottom.
“Again! Again!” Jackson’s eyes were wide with excitement. He hopped up and down and ran back to the bottom of the treehouse steps.
“Wait! Wait!” I called.
Jackson looked over his shoulder, laughing. He climbed the steps faster than ever and crawled through the treehouse quickly, just ahead of me the entire time, just beyond me. Just as I reached the top of the slide, Jackson had both feet onto the slide and WHOOSH down he went.
My heart skipped a beat. I fully expected him to crash at the bottom, or slam his head on the wall, or get scared and melt into tears.
But that’s not what happened.
He flew down the slide — but at a normal, fun speed. He came to a full stop at the bottom and stood up. “Hi Mommy!” he called from the bottom and waved to me, still at the top. In that moment, I saw him, maybe for the first time, as a little kid instead of a baby.
I took a gulp, and slid down the slide, by myself.