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Taming the Twisty Slide

Our new playground has some features
Maddie hasn’t encountered before, and one is a covered spiral
slide. Madeleine’s been eyeing it since we moved here; she
loves going down the regular slide, and with the spiral slide being
the tallest of the five slides on our playground here, I think she
considers it the Mount Everest of the playground – to be
trained for and conquered.

The first couple of weeks Maddie eyed the slide but wouldn’t
go near it, deeming it too high and too fast. About two weeks ago,
though, her longing looks drew her ever nearer, until she was
staring wistfully into its open mouth. I could see she wished she
had the courage to go down but simply couldn’t talk herself
into it.

And then Elmo came to the park.

One morning, Maddie brought Tiny Elmo
along to play with us, and apparently he thought it’d be a
good idea to try the spiral slide (or “Twisty Slide” as
Madeleine calls it). Unfortunately, Tiny Elmo is a lightweight
plush (as opposed to Big Elmo, who’s got a sound box and some
more weight in him) and Tiny Elmo ran out of steam about halfway
down, sliding to a sad little stop in the fiberglass tube. Great.

“Mommy! Tiny Elmo is stuck! Can you please get him
out?” my daughter asked, the panic barely contained in her
voice. I could see her worry for her friend warring with her fear
of the slide, so I relented and agreed to go in after the red guy.

Here’s a tip if you ever find yourself in a similar
situation: before heading down an enclosed fiberglass spiral slide,
remove the baby you’re wearing on your chest. You’re
less likely to get stuck.

Yep, a foot or so down the slide, Cora and I stuttered to a halt,
our hineys wedging us top and bottom. She lay on my chest in the
Ergo carrier, face inches away, staring unblinkingly into my eyes.
Ok, I thought to myself, stay calm. This is time for Super Mommy to
take over and come up with something clever. Lying on my back
staring up at the cloudy plastic, I reflected on how this was
probably the most rest I’d get all day. And then, “Read
any good books lately?” popped inanely out of my mouth at my

“What Mommy? Did you find Tiny Elmo yet? Is he ok?” my
older daughter asked anxiously outside the slide, bringing my out
of my fiberglass world and back to the real one. I had a kid down
there, and a red monster who needed rescuing. Rescue! I could call
for help on my cell phone!

Fortunately that thought triggered a brainstorm, and by simply
shifting my cell phone around in the pouch I was able to get us
moving again. One more turn, and we were upon Elmo, and after a
little nudge from us he was once again moving. We all popped out at
the bottom, and I like to think the relief on Maddie’s face
was on my behalf but I think I’m fooling myself.

Happy to have Elmo back, Maddie raced to the top of the play set
once more. “Maddie, if you put Tiny Elmo down the slide again
I will not rescue him. Do you understand me? If he gets stuck
again, you will have to get him out or you’ll have to leave
him here. Ok?” She nodded solemnly.

And put Tiny Elmo down the slide again.

And asked me to go get him again.

Of course I refused, trying to be consistent and stretch my girl a
bit. And to her credit, she tried her hardest to make herself go
down that slide. She’d crawl to the opening, whimpering, and
start to put her legs in before her sobs got the best of her and
she’d crawl back away. “You can do it, kiddo!” I
encouraged from the ground. “Ok!” I’d hear sadly.
“You’re doing great, honey!” I cheered.
“I’m coming, Tiny Elmo!” Then more sobs, and
backing away.

Finally Maddie asked if I’d go with her as she rescued her
friend, and I couldn’t say no. I emptied my pockets, sucked
in my stomach, and we all went down together. There’s
something to be said for being so worried about a friend that you
forget to indulge your own fears: Maddie was so concerned about
Elmo that she forgot to be scared, so intent on reaching him she
disregarded the twists and turns. And when we all (four) popped out
the bottom, she laughed in sheer relief and pride.

“I did it!” she exclaimed disbelievingly. “I went
down the twisty slide!”

Ever since then, Maddie’s been fearless and the twisty slide
is her new favorite thing. She will race to the top, make sure
everyone’s watching and cheering below, then hurtle down the
slide at breakneck speed. I can hear her excited panting, her feet
thumping on the sides, and she whizzes by me and I love it every

“I did it! Yay!” she’ll cry every time. Then
– “I’m going to do it again.”

Any time we go pick Daddy up at the train station from work, we
have to stop on the way home to show him how Maddie goes down the
twisty slide. If someone comes over – say, if I tell her,
“Uncle Daniel and Aunt Nikkie are coming over today”
– Maddie will offer, “Maybe I can show them how I go
down the twisty slide.” She’s so proud of herself for
conquering her fear, and so in love with the fun of the slide, and
she wants to share it with everyone.

And I mean that literally – she tries to cajole other adults
into going down tandem with her. I think she enjoys the company,
but also wants everyone to experience the sheer awesomeness of the

As for me, we’ve got a new rule – no Twisty Slide with
Cora attached.

I’m not sure I can dial 911 if the phone’s in my back


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