When I first met the munchkins, I met them at a place where there were a ton of jungle gyms. Little Miss was 18 months and couldn’t walk yet. Little Man was two and neither one could really talk yet, some words, but very hard to understand. To them, I was this cool new person they got to play with, on their terms.
Little Miss crawled through the entire jungle gym. She was fearless. Nothing could stop her. I, of course, freaked out and kept looking over at my boyfriend, now hubby, saying “She’s going to get hurt! Her poor knees!” He just looked at me, laughed and said, “Trust me. There is no stopping her. She is just a very brave 18 month old. Don’t worry, I’m watching her.” I then remember Little Man walking up to me and pointing at the swings. “Push, peassss.” What joy it brings to my heart to hear the sounds of children’s laughter. It just melts my heart when I hear the giggles and joyful laughs. Little Man laughed, and laughed, and laughed. He hopped right off the swings and made a b-line back towards his daddy and sister. He motioned for me to come over and play with them. I knew right then that I was going to fall hard for these two little munchkins.
We made it a regular thing to meet up at the jungle gym with the munchkins. We felt that this was THEIR turf and maybe that would ease everyone into this new relationship that we were building. To be honest, that was a really smart idea on our part. The kids were in an environment that they were comfortable in, a no stress zone. What kid ISN’T happy on a jungle gym? That helped A LOT.
The number one memory that sticks out the most about jungle gyms is when I taught Little Miss how to walk. Oh my god, I can’t even begin to tell you how that made me feel. She came flying down the slide and I picked her up and swung her around. I set her on her feet, stood in front of her and let her hold my two pointer fingers. She had this determination on her face that she was going to master walking right then. We had been working on it for a few weeks now, and she almost had her balance. We started walking and I slowly slipped my fingers out of her little hands. She started walking. My hubby was a few feet back and heard the joyful screams coming from Little Miss’s mouth. “She’s walking, babe! She’s doing it!” Little Man, hubby, and I were cheering her on. She was on the move, and yet again, no one could stop her. (almost 6 years later and that statement still rings true about her.) That was my first proud moment with those two munchkins. I taught my step daughter how to walk, and it was totally bad ass.
I am lucky. I am lucky that I have been there for a lot of their “firsts”. I have been there for every single first day of school, major surgeries, dance recitals and sports games. I know a lot of stepmamas can’t say that, so understand I do realize how fortunate I am. I thank God every day for putting them all into my life.
So yes, J is for Jungle Gyms today, because believe it or not, jungle gyms brought the munchkins and I together. We found a common ground, and went head first running with it…literally.