There is something about watching Oliver succeed in doing something new or take joy in something he loves that gives me a simple, uncomplicated happiness. Maybe it is because this happiness has nothing to do with me. It is all about him.
Last spring, I took Oliver to the park for the first time. He stood there for awhile, taking it all in and deciding whether it was safe to walk on wood chips. Once he decided it was safe, he wandered around under the play structure. When he fell, I had to help him up because he refused to put his hands in those prickly bits of wood. Later, he tottered up the play structure ramp and spent most of his time "driving" at the steering wheel. I introduced him to slides - he needed a lot of help. I picked him up, set him at the top, and held onto him all the way down. In his own hesitant way, he loved the park that day.
A little later in the summer, we headed out to another park to meet up with friends. This ended up being another successful day. He loved the slides, and was good enough at keeping his balance to push himself down.
And then I discovered one of the reasons for going to the park that I hadn't fully realized yet. Oliver did something completely new.
He walked up a step. Then, he turned around and sat down, beaming pride in himself.
Fast forward to about a year later. Oliver is no longer slow to warm up to a playground. He climbs the stairs like a pro, and he's mastered slides big and small. I say park, he says slides. Here he is enjoying the twisty slide last week.