Before the first day of school arrived, before we all got sick and sniffly and miserable, before the weather turned so very cool, before the return to the hectic days of homework and the tyranny of weekly schedules… My seven year old and I took some time off for one day, just the two of us.
We walked all around the magnificent acres of the Heritage Museum and Gardens looking at cars, and playing in frog ponds (our favorite part, we think), wandering through the current exhibits, and discovering hidden hollows meant for exploring and building and getting wet and being a kid. He laughed and jumped and ran, stretching those legs of his and soaking up the last bit of clear summer sunshine as I walked more slowly, following his lead and letting him chose which paths to follow. He waited for me around the corners, unseen, and even when climbing up ahead, he checked back when he reached the summit, just a small glance and only once or twice, before running on
The most difficult, heartbreaking challenge of parenting isn’t about the number of times you’ve failed them, how often you’ve lost patience, how many fevered brows and scraped up knees you’ve kissed, or the growing pains you’ve witnessed but can not take away… it is learning how to let them go, bit by bit, even when you don’t know how and you’re not ready.
I hope, as he gets older and we experience more of those bumps and bruises known as the adolescent and teen years, that he remembers this day as fondly as I do. That maybe if he doesn’t exactly remember that moment he reached for my hand, that he’ll have internalized the knowledge that mine was there, waiting and ready, for his.