I've been writing a bit lately about how difficult it has been to mom Sam right now. The tantrums, the testing of boundaries...part of it his intense personality, and part of it is just that he's three (this too shall pass...this too shall pass...). There are times, though, when the urge to sell him on Ebay is not quite so overwhelming.
A few weeks ago, we decided to make the drive up to Snoqualmie and attempt to get a pass for sledding. Since I have the most snow gear, we decided that I'd go with Sam, and Mark would stay with Caroline in the warm lodge. So, Sam and I bundled up and hiked in our boots across the snowy field to pick out our tube and get in line. Snoqualmie has a very well groomed tubing area with about 10 lanes. There's a steep drop and then a long, flat length in each lane. The whole things is about a football field's length.
The first time, we attempted to go together. These tubes are a step up from the ones I used when I was a kid. They have these canvas jacket thingies that zip over them with leather handles, and if you're small enough you can sit right inside the hole in the tube. Suffice to say, I am not small enough. So after one terrifying backwards rocket down the hill with me perched on top of the tube and Sam on my lap, I asked him if he'd like his own tube so he could go by himself. He enthusiastically said yes. So, after I walked by him while he rode up the hill on the rope tow, I helped him pick out his own tube.
One more long wait in line, and we were ready to go. After some pretty specific instructions about hanging on, staying in the tube, etc, I gave him a little push, and off he went. Then, I jumped tummy-down on my tube and rocketed after him head- first.
About halfway down the hill, it became apparent what a little push Sam had gotten compared to my leap onto my tube. I was gaining on him...fast. As he came to a halt at the bottom, I was frantically trying to steer by dragging my feet and yelling, "SAM! STAY IN THE TUBE! STAY IN THE TUBE!" But there was nothing I could do. Bam! I bounced into Sam's tube hard, then spun around, bounced off my tube, and totally wiped out. I frantically turned around to assess the damage...and Sam was laughing. So, I started laughing, too.
"Are you guys ok?" asked the concerned teenager who came down behind us.
"Oh, yeah, we're great!" I laughed.
Back we went to get in line for the tow. At this pace, I thought, we were only going to get one or two more runs in before our time was up. It would be so much faster to just walk up the hill and pull Sam behind me...
It was about 3/4 of the way up that I knew I was in trouble. There was no way my rainboots had the traction for the last incline while pulling 30 lbs of Sam. Rather then see him careen down the hill while toddlers scattered like bowling pins, I asked him if he could get out and walk.
"Mmm-hmm!" He said cheerfully, popping out. So I turned and walked...until I heard a commotion behind me.
I turned around to see Sam sitting on top of a complete stranger in his tube on the rope tow, both of them laughing. He had slid down the hill and right into the 20-something's lap. Both of them thought it was hilarious, and Sam happily rode up the rest of the way, thanking him at the end for the ride.
I don't have much experience with other three year olds, but I know enough to realize that that day could have been a disaster. Another child would have gotten scared about getting hit by another tube, or would have freaked out about suddenly sitting on a stranger's lap. Either event could have been a disaster. A cold, wet, far-from-the-lodge disaster. Instead, Sam has a remarkable gift for taking risks, and for managing to charm his way around sticky situations. He has those qualities in common with some of the most successful adults I know. I only hope that I can remember that, and help him shape and nurture those gifts. Otherwise, keep your eye on Ebay.