The boys are young enough that everything is EXCITING. Riding on a bus is exciting. Eating ice cream is exciting. Driving through a tunnel or going over a bridge is exciting. Seeing a garbage truck is exciting. Going to “the park” (a playground) is super fricken exciting.
In particular, the BIG SLIDE at the park is exciting. They have just reached the age where they can amble up the steep stairs, hoist themselves onto the slide, and shriek with delight as they zoom down. I silently die a little inside with each clumsy step or misplaced grasp. They just see me smile thinly and cheer when they reach the ground.
They love the big slide. So much. They unabashedly love the slide. They chase each other up. They chase each other down. They run to go up again. I’m their mom, but I’d say it would be impossible to watch such simple, innocent, unencumbered joy without feeling a little wistful. It’s what helps me hang back and just watch, rather than supervise their every move.
I get nervous when other, bigger kids come and use the slide as my little sunshine boys toddle awkwardly near them. Bigger kids are more in charge of their bodies, but not always aware that littler ones can’t play so rough. So I can’t help but hover a bit nearer if other kids start climbing the slide too.
Not that I need to worry all that much. My boys get a little bewildered if other kids come in and take charge. They know how to take turns, but they don’t know what to do if other kids don’t know how to take turns. They stand back and wait for other people to clear out and go away.
My boys were happily chasing each other around the slide when another boy, probably about five, came and used the slide too. He observed the twins, and their utter, exuberant joy that makes me smile. And he said, “It’s not that big a slide.” He eventually got bored and went off to do something else.
In that moment, I was thankful my guys are too young to know when they’ve been dissed. But I realized it’s coming. That boy was just maybe two years older. In two years he was more self aware, and was aware of the world around him. He realized there are young kids and older kids, and by extension, a pecking order. Eventually, my boys will start pecking. And they will be pecked at. I’m bigger. You’re smaller. I’m faster, you’re slower. I’m better. I’m not as good as him.
It’s the way the world works. There’s no parental hovering or handwringing that can prevent it from happening. Not that I’d want to. Okay, I’d want to, let’s be real. But it won’t stop the loss. It’s me that aches. It’s me that already misses these moments, even as they occur right in front of me.
They are as happy as little sunshine boys can be. You enjoy that slide, boys.