Maybe not a essay perhaps.... Not sure, just putting it out there.

Lessons in Letting Go

For weeks it was the same, every time
Three steps up the steel slippery-dip ladder
he would freeze and cry for me to take him down,
wait for me to tell him again to be careful...
"Not without me babe, you might fall..."

Until one day another mother at the playground
got me distracted chatting, it was only for a minute...
I turned my head away, until his voice brought me back
Terror gripped me, it only takes a second to fail....


I return my gaze to find him whooping in mid flight
Arms in the air, victoriously whooshing down the slide alone
until he reached the base, a soft pile of sand
with a sudden undignified thump, he beams,
"I did it mummy, did you see? Did you see?"

It crossed my mind to scold him, "You could have been hurt!"
But then it dawns on me, with a flash of guilt...
He could have climbed that ladder before, if it wasn't for me
A mother's fear imprinted, inhibiting, restricting...

The next week at the park he runs for the slide
Catching myself for a moment, I re-think my steps
Instead of rung-watching, I move to the other end
and kneel at the white sandy landing, arms outstretched;
"Come on Little Bear, you can do it! I'm here!"
Making a promise in my own mind, a lesson learned;

I know I can't climb for you, and there are risks

But I can be here, my son... my love
Waiting to catch you at the bottom.

Fifteen years later, it's his graduation dinner dance...
His date is beautiful, red hair like mine
I've had his tux altered, shined his shoes
As I kiss his cheek and twice straighten his tie,
he tells me how much he loves her, how happy he is
His face, excited, scared all at the same time

Three steps up the ladder
And there are risks...

Resisting the urge to say, "Be careful", I smile,
slip him an extra fifty bucks
and tell him to have the time of his life

Poetry by Purple Phoenix
Read 680 times
Written on 2014-03-17 at 08:02

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This is a wonderful and loving story . . . the part at the playground is one I am experiencing now with my newest grandson and it happens just as you describe it. A bit of sadness too, as I am unlikely to be around for his graduation.