The jump off

The playground at Valley Park in Spokane was not designed for toddlers, but for kids a bit older - kindergartners at least. Yet, Christian insisted on playing, despite the over sized equipment.

Every step and ladder rung was chest or shoulder height. At first Christian struggled to climb, but he was determined to succeed. Descending was far more difficult than the ascent. At one point, Christian paced back and forth over a high bridge trying to decide which end would be easier to climb off.

I had to resist the fatherly urge to help him at the first hint of difficulty. This was a task that (for some odd reason) was important for Christian to figure out on his own. So, instead, I followed him with a camera.

He did occasionally ask for help, mostly when he wanted to jump from a high ledge. He would take hold of my hands and jump - half carried half fell - to the ground. Having discovered the joy of this jump/fall/carried sensation, Christian went searching for the highest point to leap from. And he found it in a gap just barely big enough for him to fit through. He shimmied down to a metal bar just below the gap and reached for me with one hand (the other hand held tightly to the platform). This perch of his was quite high - above my head. I had to stand on the tips of my toes to reach him. When he finally grasped his hands around my fingers there was a moment of hesitation. Understandable, if you were three foot tall and about to make a jump over twice your height, you would also hesitate . But he jumped. I guided him down and he landed in the pea gravel with a small splash.

"I'm OK!" He said with a hint of surprise in his voice.

"Yes," I told him, "you are OK."

Then, with quite resignation, Christian lowered his head and said, "Oh."

Just a bit of disappointment and he ran off to play some more.

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