Thursday, August 26, 2010

Don't Fence Me In

Whenever I can, I try to give Ryan the run of the house. I’ll march around the basement with him for hours, I’ll let him explore the kitchen while I’m working in there, I’ll supervise him going up and down the stairs. But there are always limits: no playing with the cabinet doors, no going into the laundry room, no opening the drawers. Plus, I have to continually steer him out of harm’s way, whether that harm is in the form of the fireplace tools, some non-childproofed drawers, a delicate piece of furniture, or a wall. And when I need to do something unencumbered for a moment, Ryan goes in the playpen. He can be perfectly content sitting down playing with a toy, but if I put him in the playpen with exactly the same toy, no more contentment. He needs to be free!!

Last night, the family headed over to the family dance studio so Herb could set up a new sound system. While he was installing the system and teaching his sister and niece how it works, Ryan and I got to play in the studio. What heaven! What freedom! The studio is, of course, a big open room with mirrors along one wall. So not only could Ryan crawl or march without running into an obstacle, he could also watch himself do it. And it got even more fun when Aunt Holly magically produced a bracelet with 4 or 5 sleigh bells on it. He made the most of his time at the studio, happily crawling at top speed from one end of the room to the other, stopping only now and then to ring (and chew on) the bells. He grabbed my hands and marched all over, clearly reveling in the ability to build up some momentum without having to stop or turn aside. He chortled at himself in the mirror as he did all his tricks, obviously proud of his own accomplishments.

For a child who is often told “no” or steered away from something interesting (in his mind) or dangerous (in mine), it was a wonderful opportunity to stretch his legs and not have to be stopped. As an adult, I rarely think about the freedom of movement I have. I can get up and stretch my legs or get some fresh air almost any time I want, and no-one will tell me to stop or come back. I can almost always find somewhere where I can walk freely as long as my heart desires. I’m rarely fenced in. But a baby doesn’t get to taste that kind of freedom very often. So any time Ryan doesn’t have to be fenced in, I don’t wanna fence him in. March and be free, my little man!

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