I stand close by as I watch my son play, waiting for my que. He has paused in his wondering to pick at an odd spot on the carpet.
Interesting. Got that figured out. Ok, I'm ready! Let's go!
He looks to me and reaches out his open palm expectantly. I know just what to do. I offer my extended index finger, he grasps tightly, stands and we're off. He walks on confidently with me trailing behind a little off balance myself trying to keep up. He stops to climb the giant turtle. He conquers it, falls off, looks around then reaches for his finger again.
He waddles on determinedly towards the slide then makes a sudden u-turn towards the exit out into the mall leaving me in a tangle with my arm crossed over my body. He charges on unaware of the condition he has left me in. I pull my finger free to untie the pretzel I am in. He stops, his little feet suddenly firmly grounded and looks at me with uneasiness in his eyes.
I offer a finger from my other hand liberating his little feet to continue their march. As we reach the tile that marks the edge of our safe play area I stop and turn the other way. He continues on unaware of my directory, pulling my arm back behind me. I pick him up and carry him back to our friendly turtle and he seems content for the moment. He crawls up to smack him on his shell a few times.
Then stands and reaches for his finger yet again.
As we get close to that line of tile I try to steer towards the polar bear cave instead only to end up with my arm hanging out in the other direction. He is unaware of my nudging. There is no power struggle, he does not look to me to complain or try to pull me along. He is unaware of me at all. He is going where he wants to go. He is leading the way. I am no co-pilot in this endeavor. I am simply his plane. At least my finger is.
With this finger in his hand he could do anything and go anywhere. He feels strong and confident. He is stable and secure. He is self assured and independent.
I am happy to fill my roll as his finger. I am there to give him lots of practice feeling and acting independent while allowing him to be dependent on that finger firmly in his grip.
One day, one day very soon, he will forget about that finger in his hand and let it slip as he continues on his explorations. He will continue on without that finger feeling just as strong, confident, stable and secure but with two free hands and a little more space between him and Mom.