Last week I took Bjorn to a splash pad with some of his friends. Being as he absolutely, 100% can't get enough of anything water-related, he loved it.
Splashed around, played a little - he even made it look like he was peeing! (My little boy - what a ham!)
But after playing with his friends for a little while, he decided to explore. And walked away, towards a group of 3 and 4 year olds a few fountains away.
He sat down next to them, grabbed a shovel from their mountain of toys and began shoveling water in a dump truck held by a little girl in pigtails and purple.
He didn't miss a beat. Didn't look around to see if Mama was there with him, or if any of his friends were around. Just walked right up to these older kids and began to play.
I followed him at first, but when he didn't stop to look for me, I hung back, waiting for him to cry and run back to me. Waiting for him to need me. Waiting for the apron strings to draw him back in.
But that time didn't come. Bjorn sat there and played. And played and played and played. Even when the purple, pig-tailed girl grabbed his shovel, he just laughed and grabbed a loose car. When a little boy tossed a ball at him, he tried to catch it, and fell **SPLASH** into a big puddle. Which, of course, made all the kids want to splash into the puddle.
He was having fun. Interacting. Being a kid.
And it is now that I realize the truth in the saying: "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." ~Elizabeth Stone
I was excited to see him playing with other kids, being independent and happy and sharing. I somehow felt that at 11 months of age it was my great parenting skills that has allowed him to feel so welcome everywhere. It was my influence that has made him open and friendly and comfortable. I felt reassured that when those troublesome teenage years come - as they always do - he would survive unscathed, being the boy surrounded by friends. Good friends. Because he would be a good friend, too.
And I was sad that already he didn't seem to need me. Already he could take off on his own direction, chart his own course and discover his own truths. Already he could decide who it was that he wanted to play with, and Mama wouldn't always make the cut.
A short time later, he came walking back to me, grabbing insistently at my shorts, jabbering. I did what any Mama with her heart dangling in the open like a shiny Christmas ornament would do.
I sat down in the middle of the water, grabbed my little boy, and splashed around like there was nothing in the world I wanted to do more. Like a three year old.