Scamp climbed into the jungle gym at Chick-a-Filet, mesmerized by the overlapping platform steps leading to the top and endless fun. The platforms were overlapped in such a way that as you pulled yourself up on one, you had to change to the opposite direction to manage the next one. Not all the steps were spaced evenly. She was just shy a couple of inches in height to be able to hoist herself up all the way to the top. But with the help of a slightly taller two year old boy who pushed her up on the taller platforms, she summitted the play apparatus.
Scamp was excited until she realized she could no longer see her beloved Mama. She froze in terror and began to wail as she searched in vain to find me. She frantically looked to either side, only seeing empty tunnels leading to anywhere but her Mama. I maneuvered my way up the ever enclosing platforms, squeezing myself in and out of the tight spaces and forcing my back into unwanted, wincing positions. I called aloud, "Baby, Mama's coming!" I finally reached the top where there was enough space for me to sit Indian-style and caress and comfort my now joyful Scamp.
I nudged her toward an opening. I wasn't about to drag her back down those stairs! In her confidence, she crawled toward one of the yellow tunnels and down a winding slide unaided by her proud Mama. Now, how was I going to get down . . . pain free?
On her second attempt at mastering the play place, she reached the top more quickly and easily with the help of her playmate Elle, a very tall, rambunctious 3 year old. They found a new play cavern at the top that overlooked the left side of the entire padded room and her onlooking Mama. Once again, another platform alluded her, and she began to cry out of fear and frustration.
This time, I sent a couple of eager seven year old girls to her rescue but when they reached her, she was being pushed up the platform from behind by her first helper, the two year old boy, and pulled from the other side of the step by her latter aid, Elle. The older girls tried to reason with the two smaller children to let Scamp go, but both protested as they wanted to finish their self-assigned task of forcing Scamp over that platform into a new play area.
I began yelling from below, "Let the girls help her," but my pleas went unheard. Therefore, I once again slinked my way up the steps to within five feet of my upset baby and her rescuers. I had to lay down and stretch myself across the upper lever floor to avoid knocking my head on the low hanging plastic ceiling just to grab her ankle and say, "Mama's here."
At first, Scamp didn't realize who was grabbing at her ankles amidst the chaos of the other children. Then, she finally caught my gaze and crawled to the safety of my arms. She settled herself down, and once again with new found confidence, left my always open lap in choice of the outstretched arms of one of the seven year old helpers. Scamp only needed a small boost of encouragement from her Mama's warm hug to find the courage to play among the now scattered but still boisterous children. I climbed out of the play gym alone thinking "Next time, she may not even need my help." My once helpless baby is becoming a "I-want-to-do-it-myself" toddler. How could these days already be at hand?