Some things are the same. I still have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for them at the table and a very worn wicker picnic basket with a variety of snacks inside it. I still rummage through my purse for band aids and chap stick and keys when it’s time to go. But something is different.
I’m there but I’m not right there- a part of the playground scene. Sometimes we’ll play tag together but more and more it’s just them. It’s them making it up each step without the need to be steadied. It’s them flying under monkey bars without me close by “just in case.” It’s them sliding down and climbing up slides without noticing whose not at the bottom like they used to be.
I experienced this scene a few days ago and I felt a mixture of nostalgia and a spark of newfound freedom. For a moment I felt like exploding with this freedom and comfortably doing my own thing while they were busily playing. But then, I realized that this was a gift, a new opportunity for me to see my kids from that “fly on the wall” perspective.
My kids recently found this video segment from a couple of years ago. It’s best in slow-motion, over and over again.
Simon was okay and I think Jack did have time out but did you notice that fly on the wall? The one in the striped shirt? I didn’t either at first but then I did, and I noticed that she didn’t seem to notice what was going on about 5 feet away from her.
What will I learn about my kids as I consciously watch them from a distance? Do they punch other kids on an impulse? Will I see their wheels turn as they consider what to do next? I wonder what will make them squeal and what will not. I wonder who they will become best buddies with on the playground.
Who’s the one running up the stairs with Simon? I think Max will win on the monkey bar race. Burton, that little boy loved your football pads. Ollie, that was nice. Jack, come here. As I watch from a distance it looks like they are playing tag. 1, 2, 3, not it.