Eli has plunged feetfirst into the world of playgrounds. Several months ago, when we went to Chicago, we paused at a rest stop that had a small jungle gym with a slide. Eli carefully slid down the slide, decided that was okay, and slid several more times before we left.
Then there was the Giant Playset Up on the Mountain that was so much fun that Eli screamed and screamed when we tried to separate him from it. Even my explanation that it was lying about how many planets our solar system had did not dissuade him from his love of its ladders, steps, rock walls, and myriad slides.
Yesterday evening he was once again out on a playground, sliding and running and sliding and running. I’m getting calmer about the whole climbing-up-then-throwing-his-tiny-breakable-body-down-a-slide thing. No, it’s the other kids I’m beginning to worry about.
Eli loves people. He greets strangers and will talk to them at length about whatever stray thoughts a cosmic ray has knocked loose in his brain. The other kids, though — they do not see the glowing sign above his head that says, “This is the most special child in the world. LOVE HIM.”
Nothing bad has happened, not really. But I see other children ignoring him or slighting him and I want to run up and lop their heads off with my knife. And I know better! I cannot protect him from the other kids. Doing so would keep him from becoming a fully functional adult. I’ve dealt with parents who swoop down to protect their dear one from any bad experience, and the results ain’t pretty. I have no desire to be That Parent, the one that makes all of the teachers want to set bear traps outside their room for me.
So I sit on my hands and do nothing. No, that’s not quite true: I shoot death rays at the kids with my eyes. So far it’s not working.