Steps Forward and Back

We are all familiar with the saying, “One step forward, two steps back.”  It’s a little cynical, to be sure, denoting at best a decided lack of progress.  With children, however, the steps forward and back can happen within hours–even minutes–of each other, and the number and direction are anyone’s guess. 

The morning began with an appointment with our beloved Angie, my hairdresser for years and the boys’ since their first haircuts.  Edgar went first, and relished the experience.  He loves the combs, the powder, and–let’s face it–the attention from the ladies and the enormous mirror.  Oscar, a year older, does not share his brother’s enthusiasm; and though he talks a good game before he gets in the chair, once in the mood changes 180 degrees.  In the words of Sylvia Plath, there are “tears and an agitation of hands.”  He told me today he was never going to get his hair cut again.  I told him this wasn’t the 1960s and to hop back in the chair.  He did, but not without making his protestations abundantly clear to the patrons in the salon and possibly the still-sleeping residents of the next town. 

Now, fast-forward an hour or so as we make our way to swimming lessons.  Last week, of course, Oscar made a choice not to particpate.  We thought, given the display less than 60 minutes prior, that the chances of Oscar taking to the water were slim.  But children, of course, have their own rhythm, their own proclivities, and though they seem to thrive on the predictable prefer to be anything but.  There were a few new teachers this morning, and a young man named Kevin took control, grabbing all 70 pounds of two growing boys and got them both–yes, both–out in the water and for the entire time.  When the lesson was over, Kevin said, “They were great!”  They were–and they were proud.  We saw them looking over to us every once in awhile, making sure we were there, making sure we were watching, and making sure we knew how well they were doing.  None of it escaped our notice, of course, and their pride after the lesson was palpable.

When you wake up in the morning, there is no way of knowing where the day will take you.  You might have something scheduled and have a vague idea of how things may play out, but it is important to always leave room for surprises.  When you wake up in the morning with Oscar and Edgar, it is important to leave lots of room for surprises because they are full of them.  And despite the fact that occasionally there may be a step back, at the end of the day there is always growth because there is a lesson learned–and not just for them.

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