When my niece was about 2 ½ years old she had her first tricycle, a little colorful plastic thing. Her little legs could push the pedals, but she had a hard time getting it started. To help, we’d position her pointing down any slight grade on the sidewalk or in the quiet parking lot. On the level or when going up the slight grade, to get her started I’d put my foot on the back of her trike and gently give her just enough of a push to get her going. It worked a few times, until she noticed what I was doing. She didn’t like it: she’d reach around to push away at my foot and say, “Me do it! Me do it!”
Well, you know that saying about how having kids allows you to relive your childhood? It doesn’t mean that you get to play with toys again. It means you get an adult perspective on your own childhood years. Getting caught trying to surreptitiously help my 2 ½ year old niece get her tricycle started made me wonder how many times my parents gave me unseen, loving nudges to help me grow into adulthood . . . My niece will never remember that one summer evening on the tricycle, but someday, when some child in her life tells her, “Me do it! Me do it!” she just might suspect that likewise there were many similar moments in her own childhood, many unnoticed moments of love and nurturing that were, at the time, way beyond her understanding. Maybe this is why when we have children, or when we help raise our loved one’s children, we get closer to our parents.
Thanks, Mom and Dad. Thanks for everything.