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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Risk (05/17/12)

TITLE: When Tory Refused to Risk His Rump
By Lillian Rhoades


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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This article has been read 727 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanna Stricker05/24/12
Sooo close. I felt myself rooting for Tory to take the risk...but loved the end twist--live to learn another day.
Theresa Santy 05/24/12
Lovely application of theme. I enjoyed the tender, thoughtful concern of the father, as well as the strong life message picked up from a toddler's attempt at walking.
C D Swanson 05/25/12
I so enjoyed this well written entry. I loved the last sentence...that said it all. Thanks. God bless~
Carol Penhorwood 05/26/12
I absolutely love this! I am a sucker for this type of story. I guess that is natural with ten grandchildren. But your life lesson brought it to a whole bother level. Well done indeed!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/26/12
This is beautiful. I think you did a beautiful job painting a picture for me. I think learning to walk is a creative take on the topic though I just read one other story about a toddler. Each one was unique and special in its own way.

The only thing I noticed is something I myself have been working on and that's consistency with the POV. Since this is told from the first person, it wouldn't be possible to know the baby's thoughts.

I don't think I'd ever have noticed it because I thought the narrator had a omniscient POV but now that it has been explained to me more thoroughly I do see it.

This is well-written piece and held my attention from beginning to end. It left me with a warm feeling in my heart. The last line was superb.
Allison Egley 05/26/12
This is good. Reminds me of times I've done similar things with kids in the church nursery when I knew they could walk! Nope. they aren't too young to learn.
Graham Insley05/27/12
I enjoyed this. A lesson in life with a dash of fun thrown in. Not out right funny, but certainly a 'made me smile' entry.

Thank you.
Dannie Hawley 05/27/12
Powerful message in this delightful article. Fun and excellent read.
Leah Nichols 05/28/12
So realistic! I can see the scene playing out just as you described.
Laura Manley05/29/12
Very nicely written story which kept my interest from beginning to end. There is nothing like watching the toddler take his/her first steps. I agree with Shann that since you have written this in the first person, you would not know the thoughts of the toddler. I liked your approach on this subject. There is so many unique entries on this subject and yours is the first of its kind. Good job!
lynn gipson 05/29/12
This took me back forty years, to when my son was starting to walk. This is beautiful....thank you and God Bless
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/30/12
Wonderful story--right on topic--and wonderful message.
Francy Judge 05/31/12
Congratulations! I'm so glad this one placed. I enjoyed this delightful entry.
Theresa Santy 05/31/12
Congratulations Lillian!
Carol Penhorwood 05/31/12
A well deserved EC! Congratulations!

BTW, sorry...I obviously meant "a whole nother level" ...even though it's not proper English! : )

Ellen Carr 05/31/12
I really enjoyed this, the story, the message. Really well told. Congratulations on your 3rd placing.
C D Swanson 05/31/12
Congratulations! God Bless~