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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Easier Harder

Being a parent is a constant strategizing battle. When the kids are babies, you baby proof so they don't get hurt. Gates on doors, latches on cabinets, soft rubber on corners, small and dangerous things move to top shelves. I clearly remember being scared for their lives when they first learned to climb up onto the couches. I was certain they'd fall. They didn't.

As they grow, they can do more without hurting themselves. Climbing stairs is now sport, clambering on couches isn't even fun for them anymore. It's just what they do. Their old Bumbo seats? They make excellent stepping stools to reach unattainable items that had previously been safe from searching baby hands. Every time I adjust my baby proofing to keep them safe, they adjust their tactics to get themselves into potentially dangerous situations. I adjust, they adjust, and on and on. As they become more dexterous and nimble, I am able to loosen certain restrictions, only to have to make new rules for complications that I hadn't thought of when first granting permission.

Yes,  you can now climb the stairs. Isn't it great?  No! You cannot jump down the stairs two at a time. No! You cannot slide down face first.  Yes, you can now sleep on a big bed and not in a crib. No! You can't jump on the bed or bang on the now-accessible windows. Yes, you can now drink from a regular glass. No! You can't do it in the living room. You can't hold it with just two fingers.

As things get easier for me as a parent, they get harder in different ways. An example of this is swimming.

I sometimes take my children swimming in the mornings. I have no pictures because I'm by myself and I'm too nervous to step back and snap a shot. What if something happens?  How many news stories do we hear about toddlers drowning? At the pool, it's two against one. Should one of them choose to bolt to the deep end and jump in, could I get there fast enough? Could I trust the other one to keep herself safe while I'm occupied saving the first?

These were concerns I didn't have last year. They were so small that I held them both when I took them swimming, or we played in the six inches of water in the baby pool, or they sat in those tube things with the mesh seat and just floated idly around.

Now, when I take them by myself, they wear those padded swim suits that float plus arm floaties. I don't have to hold on to them because they float. I can separate myself from them enough to teach them how to kick and move their arms in a swimming motion.

So, while swimming with them this year is harder, in a way, it's easier too. They walk willingly to and from the pool now, without my having to carry them or deal with tantrums. They don't require a million pool toys to keep them occupied, which frees my arms for hand holding through the parking lot. When we're in the pool, even though I'm right there, teaching them and helping them, it's less strenuous than holding them both and trying to keep them entertained at the same time. They entertain themselves.

I would say going to the pool is a much more enjoyable experience this year. Still just as hard, but in a different way.

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