You were so sure you’d never be able to do it.
“I…Can’t!” you’d wail, eyes filling, tears that escaped tracing rivulets in the day’s collected backyard grit on your cheeks. “It’s impossible.”
“It’s a felt thing,” I kept insisting, standing behind you, trying to guide your body through out, in, out, in as you swung to and fro, struggling to coordinate your legs and never finding the sweet spot, the flow where the swing is an extension of your body.
I tried to show you- watch me– but it only made it worse.
“I’ll never be able to!” you howled, and stalked off to scratch in the sandbox with sticks.
When your sister did it without even thinking about it, you were crushed…and so was I. Taking you aside, I tried to talk with you. “Maybe you’re overthinking it?” I offered, knowing in my heart it was the first of many times I’d say those words to you, the one whose brain is always, always running ahead to the next possibility. You have to overthink, to dissect and diagram, to put together and take apart every permutation in your mind until you are satisfied. It’s the way God made you…and to you, certainly the rest of us seem to be chronic underthinkers.
Imagine my joy as I looked out the kitchen window one random morning over the breakfast dishes- I think it was cereal that day- when a bit of dew still hung on the swatch of shaded grass beside the A-frame swing set, the ground underneath it parched and brown where little feet had worked it clear of any living green thing.
Scrunching bare toes in that dirt, you pushed yourself back,
waiting (I held my breath)
then lifted both feet and flew forward,
one, smooth motion, legs extending before you like the long wing of some flying machine, head thrown back. At exactly the right moment, you folded in, tucking your legs beneath the yellow rubber seat, heels drawn back under you. Your legs pumped in, out, in, out, sending you higher with each repetition of the rhythm until the chains almost slackened in your hands, your body nearly parallel to the earth.
I always knew you’d learn-
knew you’d break it down until it made sense and then put it back together again,
the way you do everything,
usually without any help from me.
You often don’t need my help to learn things, and that’s okay.
You can count on me to be standing here, as I am now, dishtowel limp and unused, watching you with a hooray in my heart and maybe a tear in my eye.