Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Go?

Today, Pumpkin woke up early from his nap. An hour early. Ugh. Rather than referee toy tug-of-war for three hours or repeatedly explain to Peanut that we can’t take out the Legos or play board games when Pumpkin’s awake and toddling around, I had a parenting stroke of genius.

Okay. More accurately, the weather was beautiful and I simply suggested we take Peanut’s big-wheel-esque trike to a nearby park. He literally jumped off the couch to find his shoes. Considering the 20 minutes it takes for us to get his shoes on for school each morning, this was quite the coup. A few snacks packed and we were off.
The park was new to us and fabulous. The trail erected as part of Atlanta’s BeltLine project was perfect for my little guy to pedal away. The path led to not just one, but two playgrounds, the perfect breaks for Peanut’s legs and to free Pumpkin from the stroller. We were having a great time just being – enjoying the dandelions, watching the creek flow under a bridge, spinning on the merry-go-round.
As I plucked Pumpkin from the bottom of his millionth slide run, I looked up to see Peanut swinging across the monkey bars.
I stood with my mouth hanging open. When did he learn to do that? I started to congratulate him for this feat of playground proficiency, but he simply shrugged and ran off to the next apparatus.
Is this how it starts? He suddenly comes home with a skill that I was completely unaware of? Yesterday, he used the word “proper” properly. Where did he learn that? Of course I expect a certain level of knowledge to be imparted at school or gleaned from friends, but the monkey bars seemed to be a wake up call at just how independent my little guy is becoming.
We raise them to be individuals. To be strong and curious and daring. So why, when Peanut actually does these things, do I feel a pang of sadness at the edge of my pride? I know, I know: ‘They spend nine months inside of you and the rest of their lives walking away.’ But I still find myself reaching for his hand so he doesn’t get too far ahead of me.
Luckily, the boys are still at ages where they not only wait for me, but look for me, reach for me, need me. So while they are busy growing up, learning new skills and sharing their uniqueness with the world, I will be busy learning how to let go.
Just like Peanut did today on those monkey bars.

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