Riven Rock

Silas was very kind to me this morning. I had a lot of errands to run, and he was very sweet and calm through the whole thing–no whining, no meltdowns, no potty accidents. When we got home, he took his nap and had lunch, and then I told him that, because he had been so helpful on our morning running around, I had a special surprise for him. I tried to communicate that his good behavior meant that I had enough energy to do something extra fun. Maybe he understood. I’m an Alfie Kohn fan, and thus not a huge believer in rewards and punishments. I hope Silas gets that sometimes, his good behavior lets me do the sort of thing I wish I could do all the time, but that it’s not exactly a reward. It’s just the natural consequence of giving me a break.

His extra fun surprise? An afternoon at Riven Rock. It’s a park that is very close to our house, but I hadn’t ever been there before this summer. It has an easy river access, and the water is shallow and slow enough to be safe for even a tiny toddler. There are big rocks for climbing.

Silas really surprised me. Every other time we’ve been there, all he has wanted to do was stand on the shore and chuck rocks in. This time, he ran right to the biggest rock and climbed up.

He dipped his bottom into the river, and then got down on all fours. This was a huge surprise–the last time I tried to take him swimming, in a hotel pool, he put a toe in and then started crying. That was only two weeks ago. This water certainly wasn’t any warmer, either–I was surprised at how chilly it was, for August. Maybe he was just able to be brave because there weren’t any other people there. No bigger kids, no splashing, no noise. I also wasn’t coaxing him at all. I wasn’t asking him to get in the water. I told him I was going to wade a little, and he could come in if he wanted. And then I walked away.

I didn’t get any pictures of his further adventures, because I was there by myself (and we took the dog, as well). I followed him out on slippery rocks, and balanced behind him on a giant pipe that takes water from the nearby reservoir into the city. He seemed suddenly so capable and brave. He’s often a bit timid, but there he was, scrabbling out on the rocks and splashing in the water.

I just can’t get over how much more sure of himself and grown up he is, compared to our first visit, which was only a couple of months ago. It’s like I blinked and he’s a little boy, not at all a baby anymore. I know most moms would mean this as a sad thing, but I don’t. I’m in awe of the person he’s growing into.

I’m glad that he had a great time, because this is definitely the last time I’m going out there alone with him, at least for this season. At nine months pregnant, I have no business chasing him out on the algae-covered, rolling river bottom. I’m looking forward to going–with an extra set or two of adult hands!–next year, to see how much his experience of it has changed.


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