When Sydney was a mere two-pound preemie fighting for her life, a friend sent me this quote “Though she be but little, she is fierce!”- William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. How well it captures Sydney! She’s always been the smallest of the clan, but meek she is not. While I’m proud of her tenacity, she scares the fire out of me. She scales furniture in our home with the grace of a ballerina and befriends strangers wherever she goes. I’m certain she’d attempt to cuddle a deranged mutt wandering the street or scale the fence if she wanted something. It can be terrifying. Consequently, one of her goals for Early Childhood Intervention is to demonstrate caution around dangerous situations (e.g. hot stove, strangers, animals). I manage Sydney’s shenanigans in the house, but venturing outside the home poses clear dangers. In order to help her master this goal, I begrudgingly knew it would mean practice. Her trainer suggested we begin by checking the mail daily.
Insignificant as it seems, checking the mail was a monumental task for us. It meant single-handedly teaching four two-year olds how to walk together and also recognizing the dangers of the driveway and street. I began tackling this task with Sydney and one other child at a time. With just two, it was relatively simple. I’d hold each little hand as I led them to the mailbox, quickly snatch the mail and lead them back. Sometimes Sydney resisted hand holding and attempted to bolt, but with just two kids I could grab her easily.
After a week or so of that, it was time to go as a whole group. In time the quads started pairing off and holding each other’s hands as they followed me to the mailbox. Once we reached the mailbox, I taught them to wait within a square on the sidewalk while I retrieved the mail, giving a piece (usually the junk mail) to each child before I instructed them to bring it inside. Although the quads are doing a fabulous job at this new daily chore, I continue to remind them of the boundaries and show them where cars drive, ect. Occasionally, Sydney threatens to dart off, but she recognizes the street is a place for cars and not kids, which is a piece of mind.
Since we conquered mail checking, visiting the park was next on my agenda for helping Sydney master her goal. Together, George and I took the quads to our neighborhood playground in our stroller. As soon as we unloaded the four, they darted to the stairs and gave the toddler slides a try. In the beginning, I was concerned Sydney (or really anyone) would leave the toddler area and attempt the section for older kids. For the most part they all stayed within eye shot and didn’t push the boundaries too much. With a good bit of prompting, Sydney learned to safely manuever the equipment. At one point she tripped and fell off a small set of stairs and landed on her back (taking my breath away). Thankfully she didn’t have a scratch and quickly returned to playing. Going to the playground proved good for the whole family. We enjoyed a bit of fresh air, and were able to meet other children the same age that live nearby.
After the neighborhood playground was a success, we later took the quads on a picnic to a city park without strollers. All four walked alongside us down a meandering path, over a bridge, and through a meadow to our chosen picnic spot. Once we settled, they all stayed on our quilt as we nibbled our dinner. It turned out to be a lovely Sunday afternoon.
We are finding that with continued practice getting out to enjoy the world is much easier. In fact, we’ve gone to several restaurants without using strollers. We can unload the quads from the van and they walk with us. It’s liberating!