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The thrill of the chase

Christina M. Currie

In my pre-children days, toddlers found me interesting, sometimes amusing, but not someone they turned to when they were in the mood to cuddle or when they needed a little TLC.

That’s one of the reasons I wanted children of my own.

That was another of my pre-parenting ideals that got shot down almost at Katie’s conception. In fact, I think the only time I’ve had Katie’s full attention was when she was in the womb.

She was born independent.

Oh, I’m still the first choice for a cuddle or nursing but on her terms, not mine.

Katie was never the child that threw tantrums when dropped of at a baby-sitter’s (she’s totally in love with her baby-sitter, so that might be the reason).

I just thought I was lucky, I didn’t attribute it to her personality.

But it’s getting clearer and clearer Katie’s afraid of very few things and has insatiable curiosity (one of the reasons she was trying to pry a wad of gum off the parking lot outside of the swimming pool).

We went to the Early Childhood Coalition’s developmental screenings. Katie was pretty impressive she always is when she’s in the mood.

I was told to let her play with the dozens of kids and toys outside the office where our exit interview was being held.

“Does she have any separation anxiety?” I was asked.

“Not …” I said as I was craning my neck out the door to see what she was doing “… really. Where is she?”

The interviewer looked up surprised. Katie was under supervision, but she’s fast.

Really fast.

I backtracked to the room where they gave her Cherrios no sign of her.

I ran to the stairs that minutes before I had to drag Katie off she loves up and down.

She wasn’t there.

I made my way through the tangle of turns and hallways to the gym and found Katie playing basketball with members of the Craig Lions Club.

She was not traumatized at least not until I showed up.

When she saw me, she went running across the room holding the basketball like she thought it would vanish.

She saw that “let’s go” look in mama’s eyes and she wasn’t done.

The Lions Club members encouraged her they thought she was great fun. She was showered with stickers and even had a partner who would roll the ball back to her each time she lost control.

Home for a nap couldn’t compete and her own ball wasn’t nearly as good has the airless one she had in her hands.

In my pre-children days (also known as “didn’t have a clue” days) I would see parents walking the streets with their children in a harness and on a leash and couldn’t imagine a more cruel or degrading thing to do to your kids.

I’m over that.

A weekend at the ranch spent on the run, an evening at the grocery store steering the cart up and down aisles on the chase, or a soccer game spent blocking the sidelines so Katie wouldn’t think it was her turn to sub in all led me to believe differently.

She’ll outdo me or anyone else I’d wager in the energy department any day of the week.

At last week’s soccer game, we all watched as Katie followed another family across the field. When she finally did look up to see it wasn’t her family, she actually had to think about which direction to go. The other family had a big, colorful umbrella and right now Katie has a big thing for umbrellas.

It must be genetic, I remember following my dad around the grocery store clinging to his back pocket with my head down. He stopped, so I stopped. He started and I reached for his pocket. He stopped again, so I looked up and realized it wasn’t his pocket I had my hand tucked into.

To compound my embarrassment, dad, talkative by nature, stood and talked to the guy when all I wanted to do was sink into the next hole that opened in the ground.

I’m told I wasn’t nearly as independent as Katie is.

Katie decided the umbrella wasn’t worth it, so she streaked across the field back to us.

The laughter of the family she followed proved one thing kids belong anywhere.

Which is nice because kids don’t understand boundaries Katie especially.

At the swimming pool, she went from towel to towel helping herself to anyone and everyone’s snacks.

She about ate the group next to us out of popcorn even when she had her own and no one’s drink was safe. She kept stealing someone else’s unopened Cheetos and fruit juice and bringing it to me.

I kept returning it and trying to head her off.

Luckily, most people find the brazenness of children amusing and worthy of respect.

I like to think adults long for the feeling that the world and everything in it belongs to them. That they are welcome anywhere. That even with butter on their hands and dirt streaked across their cheeks, they’re adorable. That time when the biggest problem you have is when mom comes around to put an end to the fun.

As an adult, you learn that it’s not always safe to let children go running off on their own, but you admire them for their willingness.

That is, after they’re asleep and the chasing is over for

the day.


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