We reached the garden. You saw the gigantic metal giraffe painted in red and yellow and green. Colours designed to attract every little soul who entered the garden. Without warning you left my hand and ran to the giraffe. Before I realised it your feet were on the first rungs of the bars that made it up. And you started climbing. I don’t really know how tall that thing was. But to my fear numbed brain it seemed at least 10 feet high. And there you were a tiny little thing, just past your second birthday, trying to climb up as fast as you could.
I opened my mouth to shout and call you back down, when I caught your father’s eye and he just shook his head to stop me. I understood what he meant. We had made a pact that we would never stop you from exploring, from learning by doing. We had promised ourselves that we would give you the freedom to grow, to fly, to touch the sky. And now that it seemed that you were actually trying to reach for the sky, I could only stand there paralysed with fear, watching you as you climbed higher and higher. And as you reached higher all that I could think of was that it was a longer way to fall. I had visions of broken bones and worse.
Dad in the meantime positioned himself beneath the monster, encouraging you and telling you where to place your feet. His presence there gave you the confidence to go right to the very top, secure in the knowledge that Daddy was there to catch you if you fell. You finally reached the top and squealed with delighted laughter. I could not help but laugh with you, as tears streamed down my face.
You climbed back down with Dad guiding you and the minute you reached the ground, I swooped you up into a hug that hid all my anxiety. And then so sweetly and innocently you asked me, “Mamma, why are you crying?” I answered you with what I now realise was the truth, “Because I am so proud of you.”