Lorelei does not come from athletic stock, alas. Both of her parents are tall people whose limbs grew so quickly that the coordination just never fully caught up.
Actually, I partially take it back – Eric was a very good little league player back in the day – but seeing as how just yesterday I tripped over my own feet and nearly mowed someone down, there’s not a lot of hope coming from the maternal genes.
Lorelei has been leggy and off the charts, height-wise, almost since she was born. Which may be why climbing up the slide at daycare has been her own personal Waterloo.
I didn’t know this was a thing – climbing up the slide at daycare – until Lorelei requested new, sparkly sneakers to help her in the endeavor. “Oh, Jen, it’s just heartbreaking,” her teacher informed me. “Each child gets three chances to do it, and the whole class is cheering her on, and she just hasn’t quite been able to do it yet,” she said.
This is one area where the short, nimble kids excel – shooting up the slide lickety-split over and over. I always envied the short kids their fearlessness in this type of endeavor, as well as the fact that they always got to sit in the front row and hold the sign on class picture day. And don’t even get me started on the monkey bars. But I digress.
In any event, Lorelei did need new sneakers, and I figured sparkly was as good a kind as any other, so she is now sporting a brand-new pair of blindingly bright Twinkle Toes.
The day after she got them, the kids and I went to the local playground. Nicholas and I hung out at the swings while Lorelei ran slide drills, over and over – the slide at the park, conveniently, is a near-perfect match in size and slope to the one at daycare.
I was really impressed at her tenacity and refusal to get discouraged as she tentatively climbed, and backslid down, over and over and over. (To add insult to injury, one of those short quick kids was on the next slide over, darting up again and again like it was no big thing.)
Finally, I saw a little blond head emerge, triumphant, at the top of the slide. “YEAH! I DID IT I DID IT I DID IT! MOMMY, I DID IT!” She was ecstatic.
Lorelei practiced a few more times with maybe a 33% success rate – which was all she needed back at daycare the following Tuesday, where the rubber would really hit the slide for her three official attempts.
On Monday night, she carefully stored her new sneakers in their original box under her bed before she went to sleep. We all checked the forecast for Tuesday, too. It was slated to be warm and dry, perfect weather for a slide-climbing attempt.
On Tuesday morning, Eric and I sent her off with well-wishes. I thought about her often during the day (especially during a brief, unexpected morning shower; I was concerned it would make the conditions too slippery).
When I got to school for pickup, Lorelei was radiant. “Well?” I asked, hopefully, as she walked over. “I did it!” she announced with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen. She ran into my arms for a huge hug.
It’s hard to explain how proud and happy I felt for my little girl that day. I had a brief flash of what my parents must have felt for my brother’s and my accomplishments over the years – as with so many things, you look at it a little differently once you have kids yourself.
You want so very much for them, and you want them to confidently go out and do everything in the world that makes them feel joyous and proud, even when it’s hard. On Tuesday, I saw just an early glimmer of everything Lorelei’s going to someday work towards and become. I can’t wait to be there, cheering her on, every step of the way.
Today, the slide. Tomorrow, the world.