It’s a last minute decision to stop at a small playlot that Gus and I discovered on a walk last summer. We left the house early and have a few minutes to spare before Gus needs to be at daycare. I’m also curious about something. I want to know if Gus will like the swing.

Gus has been seeing a physical therapist every week since he was seven months old. Until recently, Gus also worked with an occupational therapist. He started receiving these services because he wasn’t meeting important developmental milestones. He wasn’t rolling or trying to move, and he wasn’t exploring toys or objects with his hands or mouth. Instead, Gus was the consummate observer, who seemed pleased to sit and watch what everybody else was doing.

It’s routine for the therapists to ask several questions during a session. One question that the occupational therapist asked a few times was whether Gus liked to swing at the park. I was always happy to report that, yes, Gus did like to swing. It seemed like the right answer. It was always met with an approving nod. At the time, the nods were important to me. They meant relief and reasons to believe that Gus was going to be fine. They were more important than investigating the question or actually knowing if there was a right answer.

It’s been a season since I put Gus in a swing, and I want to see what the answer will be now. After struggling to slip Gus’s feet in through the awkward holes, he sits rather tentatively. Ready, Boo Boo, you’re going to go for a swing, I say. I gently push him back, lifting him away from me, and release. As gravity sweeps him back toward me, a smile lights up his face. I push him again, sending him away. He giggles. He likes it… but before I can finish my thought, I see that Gus’s expression has changed dramatically. There’s fear in his eyes, and his mouth is turned down like he’s about to cry. All done! All done! he cries.

I take him out of the swing and hold him close to me. He settles quickly and leaves my arms to go running in the woodchips. I guess that I didn’t get the answer or the nod I was hoping for; but, as I watch my son running, I think he’s come a long way, and so have I.





5 thoughts on “Gatekeeper”

  1. You have the supports in place and he’s moving in the right direction. When my guy wasn’t making milestones I was grateful for the help and remember hoping I was answering their questions correctly. Know that you are giving your child everything you can and someday you’ll look back and almost forget the angst because it will all work out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our children do not come with instruction manuals. We have to figure them out as we go. I give you so much credit for turning to others for guidance and continuing to monitor Gus yourself. He is lucky to have you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. Another remarkable post. I want to see Gus run! I can’t believe he has come so far since the fall. Your story about the swing and the nod from the therapist is so genuine. You paint the scene with the swing so well, but what is really conveyed clearly is your maternal anxiety. And the last line… about you both coming so far– perfect ending. Proud of you both!


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