Nov 19, 2009

Storm Drain

Last night Josiah had a class presentation up at their school. It was really cool. Each second grade class had their own musical presentation based on a book. So it taught reinforced the need for reading, while also teaching music. Josiah's class did Alexander's Terrible Awful No Good Very Bad Day. The school the kids go to is also an Arts Magnet School. So they have more music and art stuff than the average school. Good for us. At the performance, the school also received a $2000 check from Target to help cover the costs of new instruments and other stuff for this particular event. (They do it each year.) It was really cool to see how the kids are doing at the school - they had little friends who came up to them and said hey. The teachers and administrators waved at the kids and were really pleasant.

But that's not what I wanted to write about. During the performance, Gabe was getting very upset that Josiah was not sitting with us. Then he saw Josiah up on stage. Then he got very upset that he was not allowed to go sit with Josiah. He would go and stand in the aisle and then slowly creep down the aisle. Finally one time he just kept right on walking. Heather caught him about two rows before the front. It was at that point that I got to assume my standard position with Gabe at a performance, movie, church service -- standing outside.

We went out of the cafeteria and Gabe started walking around. There is this gigantor grassy area outside of the cafeteria. It has benches and a monstrous tree in the middle. If I was a kid, this would be very cool. Run run run, little man. You are trapped in a little crappy apartment all day. Here's your chance to just go nuts and run to your heart's content. Nope. Not part of Gabers' plan. He went walking right towards the storm drain area that is up against the driveway. Not only is there a driveway that had cars pulling through it. But there is also this really scary drop that slopes into the storm area. I can just see myself stepping into that crevice and snapping my leg. (Please remember how bad of a klutz I am.)

Gabe has no idea that this is down there. He just sees the street and wants to walk into it. I keep stopping him and moving him back on to the grassy area. I try to distract him. He would run back to the sidewalk and then would slowly walk back towards the street - trying to trick me. All told, he probably ventured up to the edge a dozen times. Each time I would have to literally stand in front of him and redirect him back away from danger. This is pretty normal behavior for me and Gabe. All day as we sit around the apartment, he does stupid things to try to maim himself and I have to try to stop him. He jumps off the couch. He slides down my computer bag. He bangs his head on the entertainment center doors. He tries to climb up Josiah's bunk bed ladder. Any time a door opens he races outside. He doesn't want you to hold his hand through the parking lot - he just wants to run unabated to the car.

It seems like he has a death wish. If I had to pick which kid is "most likely to break a limb," Gabe would win. If I had to pick which kid is "most likely to tick someone off with their shenanigans and get popped in the mouth," Gabe would win. He is nuts. I am soooo much more patient with him than with the older two. Experience and growth as a person has helped with that. But I am constantly amazed at how often he just walks right up to the edge and try to get away with it. He will bang on stuff and not stop until I get up to grab the item. He pushes and pushes. It is frustrating. But it is because he's two and testing every boundary he has - including the boundaries of gravity and vehicle acceleration/braking.

So what's my excuse? I think about the number of times that I have done the exact same thing. I go right up to the edge and try to get away with it. Actually, I think all of us do that. We all want to know how fast we can drive before we get a ticket. How much can we fudge on our taxes before we get an audit? How much pizza can we jam in our gut before we get sick? How little work can I do before my boss gets mad and fires me? People always are testing their limits. Sometimes it doesn't even make sense. Sometimes I ask myself, "What the heck am I doing? Why am I even testing this limit?" I push right up to the edge to see how far I can go without getting hurt, getting in trouble, getting shunned in a Klingon ceremony where everyone spins away from me and makes strange guttural sounds.

What I don't realize - much like Gabe last night - is that there is this enormous field right behind me that I could run around and have a ton of safe fun. He was so absorbed with trying to jump off the curb into the street that he missed out on a football field of grass and a huge tree. He could have had so much fun running around, messing with mulch, kicking the tree. But he just kept wanting to jump off the curb. We are just like that as adults. People are just like that. They are so obsessed with knowing where "the line" is. They want to know how far they can go without catching a disease or ending up on someone's hit list. If they would just turn around, there is a whole world of excitement right there waiting. Why do we need to get so close to that line? Why do we have to dance on the precipice of danger? Sure, it is exciting due to that danger. But the risks are enormous. You would think that a lifetime of 90% fun with no risk of disaster would outweigh a moment of 100% fun with a high risk of wiping out. That would make sense.

But, man, that storm drain sure looks fun . . .

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