When you were small the playground was our universe. I waited for you to seek comfort in the sea of swings that reached to the sky and ladders which climbed to infinity. I hovered in orbit, watching your every move to be sure you remained unscathed. Other children were asteroids. You avoided them in their vain attempts to coax you onto see-saws and merry-go-rounds. You were unstoppable and moved as impulse dictated. I waited with band-aids and antibiotic ointment in the diaper bag. You were fleet and lovely as you ducked under the swinging feet of other children and dodged away from the warm, granular sand at the base of the slide in the nick of time.
I spoke to no one as I watched your every move. You were beautiful and the most fascinating object I could fathom. Your golden hair came alive in sunshine and your eyes were a shade of blue that made the sky seem inadequate. You were graceful, wild, and I loved you. You were the center of my world. I adjusted my position only to keep you in direct focus.
Occasionally, an errant splinter found its’ way into your flesh, or the foot of a less graceful child struck you as you engaged in the activities you were compelled. I was always beside the playground boundary wanting to make it better. Waiting to send you gently back in orbit so I could watch you again and be humbled by your perfection.
You were stronger and braver than the other children. Pain was usually ignored, but sometimes it was serious enough to cause you to run in confusion. You would be conflicted with anger and fear as I waited with arms vainly reaching. You couldn’t recognize my face. You would sprint past me and hug the legs of another woman.
She would pat your back sympathetically until she saw me crouched with vacant arms outstretched. We would simultaneously realize that I, the woman alone with band-aids, was an inadequate mother. The sad, beautiful boy could not count on his mother for comfort and sought a stranger. She would whisper to you in sympathy and gently push you back on your path.