This little guy - who struggled with the second level of the playground - struggled with being "the ONLY first grader" who couldn't do the monkey bars. Again, I stood back and let him learn on his own and I was reminded of this post that is as true now as it was then.
If someone were to ask me the personality trait I most want to teach Griffin, it would be independence. My ultimate goal is to raise a confident, capable adult who does not need me to do his laundry or fight his fights.
As an infant, I would sit him down inside a play yard to play on his own. As soon as he could crawl, I baby-proofed his room and would allow him to play by himself in there (much to my mother's chagrin). I never saw it as my job to entertain him or show him how every single toy worked.
Once he was old enough to go to the park, my outlook didn't really change. I don't hover over him every second. I sit back and let him explore on his own. If he steps too close to the edge, I of course intervene. However, the truth is the one time he actually fell off the playground I was a mere foot away and just didn't have time to catch him. (He was fine.) I also don't pick him up every time he wants on a certain toy. Rather, I let him figure out on his own how to get up on the dinosaur/car/motocycle.
Recently, he's been trying very, very hard to get to the second layer of our playground accessible only by a small ladder. He whines and cries for me to pick him up and put him on the second level, but I have refused.
However, I have learned that no matter how much I value independence there are always other parents hovering and ready to step in where I would not. As the weather has warmed and we've spent more time at our local parks, I've had to swallow my frustration as another parent picks up Griffin and puts him on the dinosaur or lifts him to the second level of the playground.
I'm sure some are being kind to the very pregnant woman who they assume doesn't have the energy to chase around her two-year-old. Yet, when the playground is crowded with lots of mommies and kids, I'm pretty sure there is no way to tell he belongs to me in the first place.
It's not that I don't appreciate the community spirit in which everyone looks out for everyone else's kids, I do. I just wish some parents would realize that I'm not too distracted or too tired to be next to Griffin every second. I'm making a conscious decision to let him learn on his own.
And he does.
Just last week he made it to the second level all on his own. After all, first the playground ladder, then how to sort warms and colds!