But today was insane. Perhaps the most (good) insane visit to the park we have ever had. (Yes, there was a bad insane visit, but I prefer to think that never happened).
We got there before my friend arrived, and Josephine headed right to the play structure. It was a new one for her, so while it had familiar parts (slides, stairs, etc.), it was still new, and also had one of those crazy bouncy bridges. What do we call those things? You know what I mean.
So, Josephine was a bit tentative at first. She crawled slowly up the stairs.
On Josephine's first attempt, she was just totally confused about the whole concept, but she just stood up and went to the next slide over with a "whatever" look on her face. I imagined she was thinking, "I'll just go down this other perfectly good slide and figure that one out later." The next time, she managed to get her legs in, but couldn't get her butt up and into the slide. She looked slightly frustrated, but went down the other slide again. Next, she got her whole body in, and could have gone down the slide, but she would have been on her stomach. She hung there for a while then decided she didn't want to do it, and pulled herself out. This time, however, she hung her head, dangled her arms, and looked defeated.
My heart broke into a million pieces. All she wanted to do was go down that slide by herself. She had tried and tried and had a good attitude the whole time, looking down at me for reassurance, but smiling and trying. To see her deflate like that was the WORST. She went down the "plain" slide, and we played for a while.
Then things started happening.
The bouncy bridge she was so tentative on? Suddenly she was running across it, not even holding the railing.
This would be a great moment for a photo, but I was so busy clapping and hugging and NOT crying (maybe a little) that there are no photos of her triumph. But that's okay, because I will remember it. She was so proud of herself and so glad that I was there at the bottom of the slide to see her do it.
You think of these things as a parent: the growing and changing and all the things they work so hard at and one day can all of a sudden do, but to see the whole process happening in that condensed one-hour window? It was great. She's really growing up, and she's just as determined and fearless as she was when she was a baby. I predict many heart attacks for her poor, fearful mother, but I hope I can stay this mom I am trying to be: the one who knows she is old enough to try it on her own and doesn't follow behind her and put her in the slide when it is obvious she won't be able to do it easily herself the first time. I hope I can remain the mom who shouts "Keep trying!" even when I would rather scoop her up in my arms and do something safe, like color.
And it's times like these when my bitter, cranky heart grows a few sizes. There are so many moments in which I am angry, disgusted with people, and frustrated at what I consider an unfair situation. But then there are the moments like these that make me remember there is also THIS in the world.