Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Learning to Fly

It all started with the baby swings.  You know, the bucket seat that engulfs a baby's bum in gross, unwashed plastic, sat on by a million wet diapers...  I never trusted Samantha to hold on to anything, wasn't aware of just how strong she might be, and milked that dirty but safe apparatus for as long as it was possible.  On the day I had to remove her double-knotted shoes with one hand while holding her in position with the other, out of breath and puffing, terrified that I might drop her, I knew that. was. it. 

Once she outgrew the baby swing, it took everything I had to explain to her that she was too big, that she just didn't fit anymore, that she was a big girl and needed to use the big girl swing, even when tempted to relent at the flood of tears and begging she produced, even when she told me, emphatically, that she wasn't a big girl, she was a baby.  Finally, I convinced her it was a thing of the past. 

But, in those early days, when she would decide she was done swinging on the big girl swing, she would remove her hands from the chains, put them up in the air, and announce, "All done!"  Oh, how my heart would stop as I grabbed her falling body, vowing never to let her on any swings ever again.

Then one day, she got it.  She learned to tell me when she was done before taking her hands off.  She learned that taking her hands off while on the swing was dangerous.  And I got to enjoy the grand pleasure of pushing her, higher and higher at her insistence, over. and. over. again.  When, selfishly, all I would have loved  would be to sit on the bench nearby with the other moms and just watch

I've tried, repeatedly, to teach her to pump her legs, to pull back to gain momentum and do it herself.  She moved her legs appropriately, but without the upper body movement, nothing would happen.

Until Saturday.

There we were, at a playground on a beautiful, no-coats-required, breezy, sunshiney day.  Children, the first of which Samantha had seen since her Spring Break had begun a whole week before (and one of whom I'm sure I have to thank for the latest bout of pink-eye she woke with yesterday), were running around, sliding, swinging, climbing, enjoying the weather.  As I watched and pushed her on the swings, two other sets of parents were trying to teach their children, who looked to be about Samantha's age, how to do it on their own. 

Inwardly, I cringed, thinking that this typical rite of passage would not be ours for some time yet.  I smiled politely, and silently, inwardly, begged Samantha to pay attention.  Out loud, I cheerfully asked her to watch the other children, see what they were doing, telling her how excited I would be when she learns to do it herself.

And then I had an idea.  I tried a new approach to teaching her to do it.  It may have smacked of desperation, and I'm sure the others could hear it in my voice as I motioned like a madwoman, commanding her (in a nice way, mind you...) to do as I instructed. 

And you know what?

She did it!!


And I was floored

No speed or height yet, but she was definitely self-propelling.  And she was definitely proud of her accomplishment, telling me she could do it on her own when I went to push her again.

And I can't wait to try again this weekend.

I have no doubt Samantha will soar to great heights on the swings soon, just as she does in anything else she sets her mind to.

She can fly.


wendy said...

Good for you Samantha!!!!! Ya HOOOO!!! We are still working with Claire she finally holds on without letting go...hoping this summer she'll get the whole swinging on her own. What a beautiful picture of Samantha! Have a wonderful week.

Jenny said...

Loved this one Becca :)

Michelle said...

Go Sammi!! I remember how exciting it was when Kayla FINALLY got the concept of pumping her legs - a classmate at school got her start doing it. So exciting. Beautiful pic of your girl!

Stephanie said...

Awesome! That is super exciting. WTG, Sammi!

Rochelle said...

Yay Sammi! Fly girl fly!

Lisa said...

Can you come coach Cate? Its very difficult on the arms to try and push two girls who both want to go higher & higher. I'd give anything for it to click with Cate - she is so close but still just going through the motions. YEAH Sammi!

Anna Theurer said...

Aww, big girl! Way to go, Sammi!!!!

Cindy said...

Loved this!! I was holding my breath, anticipating that moment with you! It's amazing when our kids 'get it'. Congratulations Sammi!!

Kelli said...

Big smiles over here!!

Salinda W. said...

Just found your blog. I thought this was great. Any child disabled or not thrive best when they see they can do things. They can overcome hard difficult things. It boosts their confidence and gives them drive to not give up. Good job to her and to you!