I firmly gripped Philip’s hand as we walked Roscoe. It was a humid evening, so both of our palms became damp. Philip stopped walking and stooped down to escape my grasp. I tried to hold on, but Philip twisted out of my sweaty hand. He sprinted down the sidewalk.
“Philip, stop!” I yelled.
He didn’t stop.
“You have to stop,” I gasped when I finally caught him. “It’s just not safe,” I added, taking his hand in mine once more.
He made a sound of protest, but kept holding my hand. When my grip loosened moments later, he ran off, faster than the first time.
While shopping at the grocery store, I paused to grab two gallons of milk. I thought it would be faster to use both hands, so I didn’t hold onto Philip. Philip, spotting an opportunity, dashed off past the yogurt and cheese. I abandoned the shopping cart and ran after Philip, swerving past other customers.
“Philip,” I murmured to him when I finally reached him near the liquor department, “you can’t run off. This is for your own good.”
Philip laughed in response, either exhilarated by his brief moment of freedom or amused by our game of chase through the frozen food aisles. Frustrated, I held on to him as I picked up milk and didn’t let go until I had checked out and put him into his car seat.
Dreading a future in which I must hold Philip’s hand everywhere we go, I analyzed what was happening. The harder I held on to him, the more he craved the chance to bolt when I did let go. I began giving him opportunities to run when we were on walks. I made sure we were in a safe area and kept pace in case I needed to grab his hand. At the store, I would let him follow his curiosity. If he wanted to look at the apples while I picked up lemons, I let him without constantly hovering.
The Fourth of July:
Philip and I are walking Roscoe. He steps beside me, holding my hand only when he wants to or when it’s time to cross the street. He ventures ahead, but stops when I call, “Wait for Mama.” Since he has been doing this for the past two weeks, and I knew I would have a hand free, I’ve brought my camera along. What better day is there to celebrate and remember Philip’s new independence than the birthday of our nation? Instead of waging war with Philip, I worked with him. Now he is free to walk at his own pace, to stop and explore, to run ahead and wait for Mommy and Roscoe. I’m keeping him safe without inciting rebellion.
Linking up with the Yeah Right Weekend Moonshine Grid