Our children look to us to make the world safe for them. It’s programmed into human development, this need to feel safe and secure. Without it, how would any of us have been able to venture out, to explore, to learn and experience even the simplest things? Our foster son has complete trust in us. I’ve seen it.
From the very beginning it was clear that Mr. T would thrive, despite his rough start in life. We didn’t do anything more than love him, feed him and give him the safety blanket that all parents strive to put around their children. He lifted his head that very first time; he put his hand forward and scooted across the carpet by himself; he let go of the little chair he was holding and finally took a step forward without a net. What I didn’t realize is that from the moment the little tike crossed our threshold, the net was there waiting to catch him at any moment and he knew it.
As he gets older, his ventures include more risk taking. It is one thing for an infant to reach for a chair and pull himself up, it’s quite another for a toddler to stand before a tree and want to climb it. His trust is unwavering. He doesn’t know the level of effort that it takes to protect a little boy from falling out of a tree is exponentially greater. I remember standing there at the base of the tree with him and marveling at his courage.
Why is it that this little pipsqueak of a boy, a few months ago allowed us to take him into the slightly frigid water of a pool? He got giddy when he and I jumped around in the water for the very first time. I placed him on his back, floating in my arms on the surface of the water and told him to kick. He did so without reservation or fear. We took off his water wings and showed him how to paddle with his hands and he did so like it was second nature. When I asked him if he wanted to dunk under the water, he agreed and we plunged briefly. As we broke back above the surface he gave a little cough and then started laughing
Then a few weeks ago, why did he suddenly jump at the chance to get on the big tractor when Uncle Bill offered to take him for a ride? As the big loud John Deere motor roared to life in the barn, the little munchkin took hold of the steering wheel with a look on his face like he was about to do something important. Uncle Bill allowed him to steer and then operate the levers for the front loader and the whole time our son neither smiled nor laughed, but instead had the look of determination of someone learning a new trade.
During that same trip, why did our less than three foot tall son suddenly start pestering his Auntie Pam to get up on Houston, a rather large Palomino/quarter horse? The entire time he was way up high on this beautiful animal, he had this huge grin plastered across his face. When they took him down and removed the saddle, he pleaded to get back on. As they hoisted him back upon Houston bareback, he held the scruff hairs at the top of his shoulders and rode, his face beaming.
I stood there watching the little guy ride around the arena, realizing that this was his big moment. As a proud poppa it is my duty to memorialize the event with lots of photos and remind him as he grows up, what a brave little soul he is. He is braver than I ever was at his age, and maybe than I am now. I feel fortunate to be his guardian and foster parent, to be here at this time to watch his development unfold. My, how far this little boy has come since October 2007.