The Swinging Bridge

I saw my baby do something today that threw me right back to a tense conversation I had with Fartbuster a dozen years ago.  Then I saw my other baby do something that catapulted me right back to this life and the joys that I have found.

The kids and I went out in the backyard to play today.  I know, I know, we should do it more often, but there is dog poo and mosquitoes and a river and some nails in that thing that rotted and all.  Carlos is too young for me to cut him loose out there without supervision, so he is still unfamiliar with the massive playscape that we have in the corner of the backyard (courtesy of my brother, Joe, who built it for his children a decade ago then passed it along to us when time rolled on).  Chanting “Climb!” in his chirpy little voice, Carlos scaled the ramp up to the first platform, which Vivi had accessed via the climbing wall.  He looked out over his kingdom with delight.  There were leaves to crunch, a ship’s wheel to spin, sticks for poking stuff–everything a boy could wish for was up there on that platform.  But there was more.

On the other platform, his sister was sliding down a fire pole and slinging pine cones down the yellow slide.  Huh.  The only thing standing between him and the pleasures of the second platform was a swinging bridge.

swinging bridge

Awfully wobbly, it is.

He hooched down as low as he could and stuck one foot out onto the bridge.  I was standing on the ground beside the bridge, cheering him on, reassuring him that it was safe.  But his foot told him otherwise.  He tried a couple of tentative forays, but the bridge kept wiggling.

That’s when I thought of Fartbuster, and a conversation that we had in a marriage counselor’s office during that year when we were trying to put things back together.  Fartbuster said, “I think our problem is that you don’t trust me.”  Well, duh, dipshit.  You had an affair.  You lost your job.  You lied to me over and over and over again.  Some crying woman calls my house at night.  Why should I trust you?  But what I said in that room that day was, “Trust between us is like a bridge.  I want to walk across it, but every time I’ve stepped on it, it’s lurched and swayed and dropped me on my head, so why would I step out on it again?  I think it’s up to you to rebuild the bridge.”

We all know how that one turned out.

Back to today.  I recognized that look on Carlos’ face–that concern that he was placing his faith in something wobbly.  And even though his mother told him it was OK, and his sister had proved that it was sturdy…all he felt was the wobble.   Then this happened:

carlos gets a pep talk

A pep talk

Vivi put down her pirate cutlass and spyglass long enough to give Carlos a pep talk.  That look on his face.  You can’t hear their laughter through these words, but you can probably imagine it if you look at his face.  I told him it was OK, but she took the time to show him.  She used herself to demonstrate that it was perfectly safe to trust the bridge.

So he did this:

Steady as she goes, mate.

Steady as she goes, mate.

Look at the concentration, the daring, on that tiny face.  Trust.  One foot in front of the other.  

I hope all of his bridges lead to greater adventures.  And that even if they sway, they are held up by steel cables his family built, way before he was born.  

17 thoughts on “The Swinging Bridge

  1. G

    I am crying now… The second picture is so, so true to the person Vivi is growing into. I am here looking at her animal shapes rule, that she lent me for my trip, just in case I had to draw something. And the extra, brand new pencil she sneaked into my briefcase, you know, just in case I had to write something…

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