I haven't been able to stop replaying this scene in my mind since it happened yesterday. My 4 year old worked so hard to do something that absolutely terrified him, and while it was pretty heartbreaking to watch I was also so proud of him.
First let me tell you about how determined this kid is - when he wants to be that is. I remember how when he was small if there was something he wanted he would just try and try over and over to get it right. The biggest thing that stands out in my mind is either just before or early into my pregnancy with the twins. Before we knew about the cerebral palsy, before I realized it was not common in babies to keep one arm tighter all the time. He had this stacking toy and all the pieces were different shaped stars and when it was all put together the lights and music played.
I remember lying on the carpet in the livingroom (back before we changed it to a wood floor) and he was sitting next to me trying over and over to stack the stars but could not do it. I moved next to him to help him and he pushed my hands away. He didn't have any speech at the time but he didn't need any. I had never seen that look on his face. Over and over he tried and he wasn't getting it. I could see his frusteration mounting. I don't know how long he tried for but it felt like forever. I wanted to help him so badly. When he finally got it he gave me the biggest little smile and clapped his hands and let out this really big sigh like he could relax and it brought such tears to my eyes. I hugged him tight and cheered for him.
Here we are a few years later and while he sometimes gives up before he even tries - like when it comes to putting on his AFO and his shoes - other times I see that determination from back when he was trying to stack those stars.
Yesterday afternoon we went to a birthday party for one of his friends from pre-K. They had a big giant inflatable where you could climb up on one side, then slide down the other into a small pool of water. There were other kids his age and size doing it but he wanted no part of it at first. Then before the pinata he decided he really wanted to try it - one of his younger brothers had done it with another adult and I think that made him want to try.
For several minutes he tried to climb that inflatable ladder - he'd get halfway up and get so scared he was crying. Loudly. But he wouldn't come down. My husband even tried bribing him to climb the last few steps with some money but even that didn't get him up there. He finally made it up to the top screaming and crying his heart out, but he'd done it. It had been awful to watch. All he needed to do was go down the slide but after taking one look down he freaked out even more. Just when we were about to go up there and get him the birthday girl's dad went up there to see if he wanted to slide down with him. I was so greatful. They went down the slide into the water and finally I watched my son's face relax and he broke into a big smile. It was that "I'm so proud, I really did it" smile and again I was teary.
How many of us really push ourselves like that. That kid is just so determined.