You can do this
When you were 2 years old I took you to the zoo to try and waste time until your sister was born. I was huge and miserable, spending my summer binging on watermelon and dreaming of pregnant free days. You were small and spry, with endless energy and zero patience for your inflated and fatigued mother.
The zoo was a bribe. A promise of a view beyond our house walls. A guilty mother’s conscious that manifested into a trip to the zoo in 90 degree whether, despite being 8 months pregnant.
There is a slide at the zoo shaped like some tall animal, perhaps a giraffe, that you had always been interested in but had never ventured up before. Perhaps it was the extreme heat that made you delirious. Perhaps it was being cooped up for 8 months with a no fun mother. Whatever the case on this day you made a beeline for the slide and before I could even question you your round two year old legs were pumping you up the staircase to the top of that giraffe’s head. Or elephant’s trunk. Or whatever extremity it was of whatever animal.
I didn’t know if I should call out to you or just silently pray that you knew what you were doing. You had barely been down a regular slide before and here you were patiently climbing higher and higher with a line of other ambitious children. You were so proud when you got to the top. Even from down below I could see your face beaming and your eyes dancing with accomplishment. You were on top of the world, or at the very least on top of some animal’s head, and you did it all by yourself. And then you looked down. The beaming left. The dancing died. The few pigments you have in your skin drained. You wailed.
On the top of the slide, with a line of children snaking all the way to the ground and encircling the slide, you froze and refused to come down. I called out to you. I told you I would catch you at the bottom. I pleaded with you to just slide down. You whimpered and remained motionless. There was no way for you to climb down the ladder, with so many kids coiled behind you. There was no way I was going to make it up the slide to rescue you, although I gave it a hilarious attempt. So there we sat.
“You can do this.” I said, over and over again. Tears in my eyes and sweat pooling in my open palms, poised to catch you as soon as you willed yourself to let go. Just let go. Just. Let. Go.
“You can do this!” I cried more forcefully just as a man from the onlookers took strides over small children on the ladder, scooped you up from the top, and carted you down that slide.
In the five years that have followed there have been many other rescue stories. There was McDonalds, where I had to snake my way up through tubing built for three year olds to retrieve you from the top of playland. Thankfully I was without belly that time. There was the climbing gym where you made it to the top only to freeze and have a staff member climb up after you. And then there was your bike.
As soon as you turned five you wanted your training wheels immediately taken off. You were five, you were too old, you wanted to drive and you were settling for riding a bike. And then you froze. For 2.5 years you have remained frozen.
“You can do this.” I’ve said through smiles, through clenched teeth, and at times as a whisper to myself.
“I can’t do it”, you sobbed time and time again. But this time nobody rescued you. Instead we just dried your tears, put you bike away, and waited for another day. A day where your ambition would overcome your fear, your feet would out pedal your mind, and your words of “I can’t do it” would be muted, hopefully forever.
Today was that day. After 2.5 years, 3 different bikes, 5 different teachers, hundreds of attempts and even more tears, you did it.
You let go.
YOU DID IT. You did. Nobody swooped you up and carried you. Nobody even caught you at the bottom. You were afraid but kept going. You were uncertain but tried anyway. You showed up over and over again, and you did it.
And here is video to prove it.