13 March 2011


Eamon can be demure.

When he meets an adult for the first time, especially if she’s a pretty girl, he often acts shy. He lowers his eyes and pretends that he is afraid to talk to her, so that when she inevitably gets him to smile, she thinks that she has somehow won his affections. (Just so you know, ladies, it was all an act. He was always going to smile at you).

Eamon can be cautious.

We went to a new playground, and I asked Eamon if he wanted to go down the slide. He looked at it closely, surveying it. He twisted his mouth thoughtfully before finally deciding, “No.” When I encouraged him, offered to go down with him, asked him to just try it, he gave a big sigh and said, “All right. Tummy.” Which meant that he was going to go down on his stomach, feet first. This is the only way that he will go down most slides these days, because 1) he can use his hand slow or stop himself if he starts to get going too fast and feels out of control, and 2) if he does get out of control, he’s going to land feet first and not get too hurt.

But one thing Eamon is not—he is not a pushover. Not when it comes to anyone or anything.

Eamon and Aaron went to the park yesterday while I did our taxes (looking back, I am realizing that I pulled the short stick on that one).

The day was beautiful. The sun shone and it was warm enough for coats to be left behind.

Once set free from his carseat, Eamon ran excitedly to the jungle gym equipment. He climbed up the stairs and headed toward the slide.

Unfortunately, a group of girls around the age of 10 or so, were roosting on the slide. They giggled and acted silly, as 10 year old girls are wont to do.

Normally, Eamon would flirt with these girls, winning their attention and their hearts. He would take them around the playground, holding their hands and directing them where he wanted to play.

But today, these girls were blocking the slide. And he wanted to slide.

He marched up to the girls.

“Go!” he yelled at them.

They looked at him in surprise, but continued giggling and most importantly, not moving out of the way.

“GO!” Eamon yelled again, this time pointing to show them that they should be going down the slide, not just sitting at the top of it.

This quieted them a bit more. The fact that a three-foot, thirty pound toddler was attempting to throw his weight around befuddled them.

Eamon gave them one more warning: “GO!” He then turned around and began maneuvering into his usual tummy sliding position.

Before he had a chance to crawl over the girls, which he assuredly would have done, they shrieked and went down the slide.

And Eamon went down the slide, smiling and happy, into the arms of his waiting father.

That battle was won.

But the war for the slide was not over.

Eamon ran back up the stairs. This time, a boy of around 12 years stood in his way, again blocking the slide so that no one could use it. Eamon marched up to him as well. There they stood—a 2 year old staring up at an adversary much taller, much heavier, and much older. The face-off commenced.

Now, Aaron was not standing close enough to hear the conversation that took place between Eamon and this boy. All he knows is that it ended with the 12 year old screaming, “I am NOT a baby!” and then running away.

Eamon, looking nonchalant about the whole thing, went down the slide.

Now, I have my own theory about what really happened. My child’s command of the English language is pretty limited, and he’s very literal. To Eamon, only people smaller than him are babies, and he doesn’t know that calling someone bigger a “baby” is an insult. In fact, I don’t think he even knows what an “insult” is.

So I am guessing that he didn’t actually deliver any smack talk. What I think must have happened is that either 1) Eamon said something completely different that the kid didn’t understand and misheard, or 2) the kid had a B on his hat or shirt or something, and Eamon, who really loves letters, announced, “B! B!” which sounds a lot like “Baby.”

Regardless, though, what impresses me is that at no point did Eamon shrink from confronting children five or six times older. He didn’t run. He didn’t cry. He didn’t hit or scream. He didn’t pretend like he didn’t care and just wanted to do something else anyway. He didn’t even find his parents to solve the problem for him.

He just…handled it.

And like that, the slide was his. He slid and slid to his heart’s content.

That was all he ever really wanted.

One day, when I am King of the Slide, all children shall ride freely without worry or woe...and none shall stand in the way of their sliding. And that day...that day, my friends...is TODAY. Rejoice, and slide freely, children everywhere!


Julie said...

Hmmmm, he didn't get caught up in the conflict and instead focused on what he wanted until he got it....that DOES sound familiar.

Anonymous said...

Slide on.....