You paw my face through the blue tunnel while your brother throws his elephant down the slide, slides down, retrieves it, climbs back up and launches it again.
You crawl back and forth through the blue tunnel over and over again, each time delighted and surprised by my face peeking in the hole in the side looking at you. And each time, you stick your fat, little hand out and swat at me. You do this for at least ten minutes, the same repetitive motion. You learn the way and feel of the tunnel. You figure out what your little body is capable of doing, climbing in, climbing out, climbing in, climbing out.
And I take my time just taking you in. My seventeen-month-old, Charlie. Climbing, climbing, climbing up on chairs, up on benches, up on the fireplace hearth, the ottoman, the couch, constantly discovering new things to hoist yourself up on and the beam of pride that follows each new little surface you conquer. And the mischievous grin when I tell you to sit down as you repeat, “Sit dow!” like it’s the name of the game we’re playing. And the scream and thrash of frustration when I pull you down from something far too high and unsteady for you to be sitting or standing on.
And the fear that you will fall. Like the day at the park a week ago when I saw that you had managed to climb up to the really tall tower. I had been too busy talking to notice that you could make it up that high. And the sight of your legs about to dangle over the edge. And my heart leaping out of my chest.
At seventeen months old you want a taste of everything. A taste of the highest view, a taste of the dirt in the pots, a taste of the toilet water, a taste of the deep end of the swimming pool. And I am always there to pull you back.
Swat at my face all you want, bite my hand that grips yours tight, kick me when I pull you down, but I won’t let go. Not yet. You’re dangerous, Maverick. And you’re also pretty gross. So, until you start refining your tastes and growing sturdier limbs, I’m clipping your wings, little one. You’ll fly beneath mine.