“And you WAIT for us before crossing the street!”
Mark gives me that “seriously, just let me go, already!” look, conveniently forgetting that less than three weeks ago, he had no clue how to navigate the city. Now he zig-zags through the crowd and can’t wait to go places.
“Wait for us at the corner of the street!”
“Wait for us at the bakery!”
“Wait for us at the fountain!”
“Wait for us at the bridge!”
Mark speeds through the city on his beloved trottinette. It’s more than a practical way to make sure he keeps us with us during our long walks—Mark is apparently committed to winning the 2018 Trottinette World Cup, if such championship exists. He tries jumping curbs, he picks it up with one hand and does a bunch of other tricks I’m more or less happy with.
“I’ll take his trottinette to climb the stairs to the bridge, mom.”
“Oh, I can grab it, no problem.”
“Wait… it looks like he’s climbing the stairs with it. Perfect, saves us the effort!”
“Should we help him?”
“… Nah. Are you doing okay, Mark? Yes, good job, strong muscles!”
I’m the parent with the hands-off approach.
I let Mark ride back to the apartment building alone on his trottinette from Place Royale, a 300-meter trip. I follow behind but I’m slower so I quickly lose sight of him. Am I crazy and irresponsible? I don’t think so. Mark does have to pay attention because this street is always packed and he does have to pass the homeless guy who has three big dogs and one chicken as pets—that’s playing life on hard mode, if you ask me—but it’s a pedestrian street and Mark showed me he was responsible enough to enjoy the two-minute ride alone.
He is proud of himself when I finally catch up with him at the door of the building.
Before going to France, my mom asked me if she should surprise Mark with a few new toys. “No toys!” I replied. “Well, not right away, anyway. I want to offer him experiences, that’s what he needs.”
I remember being five or six. I remember how happy I was to be given responsibilities and to be allowed to do things “older kids” could do—buying bread, crossing a street, ringing a bell, exploring a store alone, etc.
I’m trying to do the same with Mark. Of course, I’m never too far but I want to show him I trust him—and I do.
Some parents have a tough time letting go and miss feeding their child, getting them dressed, etc. It is a unique feeling when a little human being relied on you for survival. But whenever I feel sentimental remembering Mark falling asleep in my arms or smiling just for me, I remind myself he’s never too old for a big hug.
I just have to catch up with him and the damn trottinette first.