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Playground Rules

It seems like yesterday, we were clicking away with the camera as our little guy posed in his Bunny costume for his first Halloween. At 9 months, his muscles were just strong enough for him to conveniently support himself in the sitting position as he nibbled and drooled all over his synthetic carrot. Almost 2 years later, Max has hopped his way through several milestones and is now jumping at every opportunity to demonstrate his newest skill.
Following a developmental sequence that begins with rolling, jumping presents toddlers with a more advanced capacity for fun, as it enables them to for the first time trust both sides of their bodies to work simultaneously. Like most of Max's new thrills, jumping from a standstill or on and off of the bed challenges Mommy to minimize all potential risks and hazards. I now see the brilliance of the playground design with its cushioned gravel and open space as a safe and accessible zone for me to release my nerves as Max expands his leaping ability.

Much like jumping, when it comes to talking, making sense of grammar and meaning also  requires bilateral coordination and things get even trickier by the fact that each language has its own rules for sentence structure. This is especially significant when distinguishing Serbian from English, where the "subject-verb-object" sequence consistency is not necessary to maintain meaning. "Max jumps on the bed" can be translated inversely into Serbian without figuratively transferring the bed onto Max. As if balancing syntax and definitions weren't difficult enough, I'm starting to wonder if this word jumble might make Max a little cautious about leaping from one language lily pad to the next.
Max's leap span seems to be growing in a direct relationship with his Serbian foundation and I have to confidently trust that both skill sets will hopefully surpass those of my own. As my mom says, "every growth spurt is bittersweet." While I continue to hold tight the vivid memories of his many firsts, I also have to relinquish my sense of control so that Max can fully develop and maximize his abilities.

As I watch the kids at the playground climb on, around and through the jungle gym, I am relieved to see that amid all the jumps and chatter, the structure's distinctly organized framework requires each child to establish a balance between risk and challenge. Trial and error is requisite for success and whether hopping, jumping, leaping or climbing, Max is pushing his boundaries in order to reach this goal. He's still got a few milestones up ahead, but in the meantime we've got the trusted words to our favorite tune, "No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!"

Read more about my adventures raising a bilingual child.