The other day at the park Preston was mesmerized by two young sisters playing a game with each other—it made me happy to see him so happy, but also a little sad. He sat at the top of the big double slide—he was so proud of himself for climbing his way up the chain-ladder “All by myself! I did it! I did it!”—and watched the siblings being silly with each other. The older sister sat at the top of her slide, next to him, while the younger sister kept trying to walk up the slide from the bottom to grab her sister's feet, falling down repeatedly, which Preston got a huge kick out of (he's one of those people who laughs uncontrollably when someone falls or trips, or when his mom stubs her toe!). He finds these mishaps very funny.
He was laughing with the biggest smile on his face—he wanted to be a part of their little game (a game that was going nowhere, but still). On his next time up the ladder—a shaky chain-ladder that, I’m convinced, is there to give parents a heart attack—he made his way to the top again, and looked out to see another girl playing on the monkey bars nearby. “Wanna come up here with me?” he asked in his sweet, come-hither voice. (He's a very outgoing two-and-a-half year old.)
It was the cutest thing. I think he loves the park as much for the slides as for the other kids there. Every time I see him watching siblings interact, I can't help but think how much he would love a constant play mate in his life, a buddy, someone to goof around with all the time.
On his next turn up that damn chain-ladder, he sat at the top of the slide again—it’s really two slides next to each other so kids can go down in pairs. This time, there was a little baby hanging out at the bottom of one of the slides, and Preston was fixated on him. “Hi baby!” he said in his high voice. Then he attempted to go down the baby’s slide. I quickly stopped him.
“Preston, be careful of the baby. Please go down the other slide.”
(He pretended not to hear me.)
(He was about two seconds away from going down and crashing into the baby.)
“Preston, if you go down that slide, we’re going home.”
Then the other parents chimed in. “Be carrreffffuuuul. He’s just a six-month-old baby, and you’re a big kid…”
(What? My baby’s not a big kid!)
Preston went down the other slide, and continued to go up that shaky ladder and down the big slide about 10 more times, with a wide grin on his face as he said hi to the baby each time, who was equally fixated on him.
It only took me five tries (okay and some threats) to get him to come home with me when it was time for dinner. (This is a record for us.) It’s usually very hard to get him to leave the park, without a little drama. As I started to walk away toward home for him to follow me, he just stood there looking at me with his arms stretched out. My outgoing, independent "big kid" wanted me to pick him up and carry him home (we live across the street). And I was more than happy to do it.
After all, he’s my baby.