At school this morning there was a cute toddler playing next to the sand pit. She had those chubby little legs with no knees that really don’t flex properly, so she waddled around with that helpless, defenceless, gait that new walkers have. She had milky skin that the sun hasn’t really fluttered over yet. Her Mum had wrangled her hair on top of her head into a spiky blonde whale spout. She ate sand.
I watched her from my vantage near the
play equipment of death monkey bars (not yet banned) as she swelled in confidence, and slowly moved further and further from her mother. She checked over her shoulder from time to time, but she was separating. Becoming a little bit less of her mum, and more of herself.
And, in that very instant, as I watched that puffy nappy-clad bum climb up and up and into the sandpit, I lost all my oxygen.
I looked over at the mother who was chatting with some others about the coolchange/homework/whostocksthebestchillijam and I saw that she missed it. She missed the moment when her little girl realised she was her own person. She made her own choice. She chose her own path.
Sure, there will be more. There will be fights and disagreements and negotiations and compromises that number the hundreds (and yet they will feel like millions). Where they will pull apart, and come back together, like a piano accordion. Sometimes they will make a strange music of their very own, and sometimes it will just be a bloody big gush of hot air. Yet this moment, this very moment passed in a beat, and she missed it.
Just like I probably missed the moments my own children become their own selves, and a little less of me.
And that made me lose my breath.