Now that he can push the pedals without a gently nudging hand on his back, now that he feels free to steer and even stand to propel his bicycle up playground equipment ramps and over the hill at each crosswalk that connects pebbly sidewalks to potholed streets, I can feel the empowered sense of self puffing up inside his down vest.
And I get it. Sometimes when I see the kids swinging upside down on the monkey bars, I remember what it felt like to go around and around them, my shorts carefully worn underneath a skirt, my shirt meticulously tucked into a waistband. I would have died for a classmate to see my Wonder Woman Underoos or white cotton undershirt with pink rosebuds sprinkled over it. But as soon as I rounded the bars, one leg bent over the top and the other jutting out and straightened to steady the forward momentum, I forgot about all that.
If I close my eyes I can still feel my long blond hair hanging down, see my shadow on the black rubber mats below, and get a chill from the breeze I was making myself by whipping around and around. Or maybe the chill was from the feeling of swooping through the air for those 30 seconds, no worries, no shoes solidly placed on the ground.
My hands would burn from gripping the metal bars. The backs of my knees would get all red. I would have to wait in line to get back up there and hope I could get another turn in before the bell rang, calling us immediately inside to sit and squirm in our seats for a few more hours. But all that was worth it for a few minutes of that freedom. [Plenty of pictures after the jump]
I see that in Lil E when he rides and runs and does a Superman leap on to the swings, concrete and mats and wood chips on the ground below, blue blue sky above. I can't help it. I want to capture some of that for myself, too. I want to shake off the bills and laundry and preschool PTA emails that remind me guiltily have no time/energy/inclination to be in preschool PTA.
It's not impossible and not enough but I do get some in little breaths, inhaling a bit as I swing next to him, feet up and head back. I do when I am laughing and running, taking little clips of video of him cranking away on his bike. I can't get up on those bars anymore (or at least I dare not try...when anyone else is possibly maybe around). But I get that chill. I am happy. I am blessed. I am reminded.
He doesn't have those words yet. That comes in time, with experience, on down the path. But he so has the feeling. I can see it in his eyes behind the Spiderman sunglasses, under the helmet, behind the breeze.
[all photos - duh - credit: Jessica Ashley]