Monday, November 7, 2011
Falling Back in Nashville
This was a fun activity, jumping from bale to bale at the Department of Agriculture Park near Nashville Tennessee. It was fun until Elliot made a last leap and didn't quite make it. In a split second, I watched in paralyzed horror as his head hit the last bale and he slid like a rag doll between the hay. Richard picked him up and for a fraction of a second his neck seemed too relaxed, his body limp. Then, all of a sudden he looked around and said,
"Cool! Can I do that again?"
I almost fell to the ground in my relief and thankfulness.
It was the weekend to "fall back" for daylight savings...but we remember it as the weekend Elliot fell back on the hay and his daylights were saved.
If the Department of Agriculture folks were there to witness this, I'm sure they would have restricted this area of the farm to the public. I don't know why I didn't take a proactive stance and insist that jumping on hay bales this large is dangerous. I must have been overly confident thinking that boys need to be free to run, jump and play without nerve wracked mommies prohibiting their natural desire for risk taking and adventure.
Enter a new phase of motherhood: coaching an adventurous, athletic, curious boy with a fascination for extreme sports and a body that loves to climb and jump.
Otherwise, the weekend was full of love with a bittersweet ending.
My brother has lived in Nashville almost as long as I've lived in North Carolina. This month he'll be moving back up north to take a job with the State of Michigan. A visit was long overdue. I still had a cold but knew that if we didn't go this weekend, we might not see him again until spring. Elliot loves his uncle with a passion that melts everyone's heart. On our drive over the mountains, he was imagining spending a day watching football and eating chips with Uncle Roger. Suddenly I recognized a new Elliot; a more mature version of the child who once begged for extra time with his uncle to build with legos and play video games.
This weekend he wanted to play soccer, to sit close and have conversations, to watch football and to play guitars. When it was time for us to head back over the mountains, Elliot wrapped his arm around Roger and refused to leave. We all stood for quite a while, simply feeling the weight of that sad goodbye.
And then it occurred to me that I could help my son cope with difficult, sometimes painful situations. I used this teachable moment to introduce the empowering skill of making a goal and planning for something good. I wanted him to understand that goodbyes and endings can actually become wonderful new beginnings.
I told Elliot that what we needed was a plan. For my part, I would make good on my promise to purchase a new web cam and install it. His part would be to set up a time to have weekly Skype calls with Uncle Roger. He could use that time to have a guitar lesson, to talk about life or just to say I love you.
This thought was the only thing that motivated him to get in the car. I know it seems like bribery...but the idea of having a plan helped so much. Elliot was quiet for a solid hour in the car, saying that he was "sad all the way to heaven." But after a while he talked about all the good memories of our weekend together.
Like seeing the horses at the farm.
Having long conversations...
...and investigating new places.