When Tory Refused to Risk His Rump
With a grin that was as bright and wide as the crescent moon, Tory took two steps towards me before falling to the floor bottom first. For a moment, he sat there with a quizzical look on his face as if to say:
What happened? I thought I knew how to do this.
I, Mr. Mom, made no move towards him, but kept smiling. Slowly, he recovered from the shock of failure and smiled back at me. When I held out my hands, the crescent with two front teeth returned and Tory was ready to try again.
But trying for Tory meant more than a simple push against gravity. First, he rolled over on his side, then with palms down and pressing hard against the carpet he hoisted himself up, while his resilient bottom positioned itself heavenward; a prime target for the camera.
Soon, Tory was on his feet and walking towards me, again. It’s funny how rise and risk look almost alike. This determined toddler began with one wobbly leg and then the other – arms held out for balance like a tight-rope walker who has decided to test danger hundreds of feet in the air.
My hunk of joy kept walking and I kept smiling, hoping to see in him what I could not always see in myself – a willingness to get up and start over again. Sometimes he tottered on the brink of “bottoming” out, but he never let go of that Mickey Mouse grin.
He’d almost made it, when confidence got the better of him. Perhaps, he was thinking:
Hey, this isn’t so bad after all. Let me try going faster. Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot...
Then, just as he reached me, he fell, bottom first, again.
This time, although I kept smiling with arms extended towards him. He sat there thoughtfully staring down at the floor:
I don’t think I can do this. Maybe, I do belong down here.
And so he sat, waiting for me to pick him up.
I wanted to, oh, how I wanted to pick him up in my arms, to let him know life is about falling down and getting up, and taking a chance with failure. But he would not understand. Not yet.
Sometimes, neither did I.
He sat and I stood; the two of us, father and son. I wanted him to try again, or at least get up, but he had decided that falling down was no fun, not worth the effort.
Was he too young for me to teach him otherwise, to let him know that sometimes falling down is the only way one learns to walk, that the only way to get from here to there is to keep walking towards the unknown. For a few more seconds I waited. Finally, he looked up. I smiled and held out my hands to him. Would he take the chance, accept the challenge? Or, would he do as I’ve so often done?
With a few failures under my belt, I had learned to play it safe, to look at the bottom line to see if the effort was worth it. Was that the right approach? Yes, but I also believed as I was taught to believe that nothing beats a failure, but a try; that faith works, when we learn to walk with faith leading the way.
And then, I got a burst of inspiration. Tory’s eyes followed me as I dashed towards his toy chest and pulled out Baby Einstein Bendy Ball - one of his favorites. I scurried back to where he sat, and held out the hand that held the toy.
His right hand reached up, but the rest of his body stayed fixed where he had fallen.
How often had I been there, too afraid to make a move, but reaching out for what I wanted and hoping I could get it hazard free. For a few more moments, I held the toy out to Tory, even shook the rattle, trying to encourage him to take the risk.
C’mon Tory, you can do it.
My words must have bounced off his little ears. He refused to budge. I tried once more, with hands, smiles and Baby Einstein. Tory took another look at the floor beneath him and began to crawl towards me.
That’s when I knew that someday, I would have to teach him what life has taught me
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