The running joke in the Maffeo family is that Mike was a tentative kid. There is a picture of him jumping into a pool along side a bunch of other kids, and he is wearing arm floaties, a inflatable tube and I think goggles, whereas the other kids are just wearing their bathing suits (it was three feet of water). When he would ride the merry-go-round, he would only sit in the benches and never on the horses that go up and down, because, in his mind, they couldn’t be trusted.
Meanwhile, yours truly would walk around the neighborhood barefoot, climb the highest tree, talk to anyone that would listen and basically had no fear.
People have been saying for all 10 months of Ben’s existence on this earth that he looks exactly like Mike. Which he does. His big happy grin. His eyes and eyebrows and ridiculous lashes are exactly like his dad’s. Which makes me very happy since I think his dad is pretty handsome. However, it fails to take into account the parts of me that may have glommed onto Benjamin. I mean, I did carry the kid for 9 months. I should have some influence right?
It turns out, I may have snuck in there somehow. My sweet, funny, smart boy is a total daredevil. He has no fear. For a new parent this is a blessing and curse. It means we have to be on constant patrol. There is no turning our backs for one second without fear that he may have crawled over to the stairs and is now making his way up them. Or that he is now trying to climb up onto his toy chest or onto the coffee table. Oh, what’s he doing now? Standing up in the tub and trying to climb out of it naked? FAN-FRICKIN-TASTIC
His favorite is when he is going fast in anything with wheels. His walker, a grocery cart, the stroller. His face lights up and he laughs and laughs. Mike can often track us down at Target by listening for the sound of a cart moving too fast and laughter coming from a few aisles over.
I know that this is something that may not translate well when it is time for Ben to get his driver’s license. I may regret instilling this fearlessness in him that allows him to feel he can climb on top of anything or go anywhere. But for now, I love watching him explore. I love seeing him learn something and get better at it. Watching his face light up from laughter or recognition that he has achieved his goal.
Because here is the thing, I am always right behind him. Making sure he will be ok. My little daredevil doesn’t know it yet, but my hand is hovering right above his head or around his waist making sure he doesn’t bonk his head too hard. Or if he falls, it is only a little bit. Just enough to teach him that he might fall, but never enough to truly get hurt.
Or maybe he does understand that. Maybe he knows that we are right behind him all the time. And he is learning that he can go explore and make mistakes. He can discover the world around him. He can fall down sometimes, but we will make sure it doesn’t hurt too much. I have learned in the past 10 months, as parents we will spend the rest of our lives trying to find that balance between letting our kids be the daredevil, letting them fall down and making sure they know they are safe.
And to all the parents out there, from the veterans to the newbies, may you always find the joy in watching them explore the world.