Thursday, July 25 2024 - 10:44 AM
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The Kids are Watching

It’s been many, many years since I’ve jumped on a trampoline. But at our granddaughter’s pre-school party a few years ago, I had the opportunity to do it vicariously through her. I was asked to chaperone at the local trampoline park. And joy of joys – we had it all to ourselves.

No child wasted time shedding their shoes, tearing up the steps, hair and giggles flying, to test their running and jumping skills. Boing-g-g. For about a half hour their high energy continued until each section of the room had been thoroughly tested. And then – along came a giant.

One of two workers that day, he was tall, in stocking feet and sported a bright orange vest. His weapons were neon green and bright orange balls. Gathering them under his arms he stepped into the arena. And there he began pelting the kids with those (very soft) balls. Pow! Bam! Gotcha!

Small heads turned. Hey! What was this? An adult who wanted to play? The shock and then sheer delight at the idea soon went off like a cartoon light bulb in each little noggin. Guess what? We’re going to throw those balls right back at this big guy. Woo Hoo!

Up until that point it was all about the other kids. Who can jump highest? Who can run up the trampoline wall the furthest? But now they had a common target. He was big and was laughing. He was eyeballing their backs and they were loving it.

“I got him!” A five-year-old tank of a little boy yelled.

“Ha, Ha,” my granddaughter screeched as she made her mark, blonde curls swirling.

“Look out!” A warning for a fellow fighter to duck.

And on it went until they had him down on the mat pummeling him like the Lilliputians they were. Poor Gulliver. They only lacked ropes to finish the job. It was glorious to watch.

How Much They Need Us

Things calmed down after that but it made me realize how much our children need us. Other kids are fine, but really, it’s the grownups they idolize. When they glance back to see if we’re watching – we need to be watching. When a lip is pushed out and tears are pending – we need to have hugs and kisses ready. We must feed them, often with treats. We must shelter them – sometimes right under our own covers when we’re weary beyond belief. And we must clothe them, even when we are not crazy about their choices.

They’re watching us, these kids. They want to be us someday. They learn how to love – or not – from us. If you’re in an adventuresome relationship to a little someone, take that roll to heart. Throw balls at them. Let them throw them back. Be big and tall and fun. Be strong and soft and accepting right up to the day you must let them go.

Perhaps then, if we manage all this, the world could be healed. God and Gulliver would approve.

Susan Sundwall writes from New York.

If you liked this, you may also like Challenging Children | Young Children Learn By Copying You 

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About Susan Sundwall

Susan Sundwall

writes from New York.

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