In search of a replacement pair of winter mittens for Finn, we wandered into REI last weekend. If you've never been to the Seattle REI, it's like Disney World for the active set. I get tired just looking at the hiking & biking trails that cut in front of the waterfall outside, to say nothing of the 50 ft climbing wall and hiking boots testing area inside the store. And to top it all off, there's a big play area inside to keep the kids busy while mom and dad spend their college tuition on dry-sacks and imported energy bars.
Lest you think I'm talking about some lame ball pit, here's a picture. It's like Swiss Family Robinson, but with an adjacent World Wrapps restaurant. Except when we were there, given that it was a Saturday morning, there were about 14,000 more kids in the frame.
Thinking I was getting off easy, I took Finn to the play area while Kitty looked for mittens that would actually fit his hands and not flop around, leaving him looking as if his hands had just been crushed in the car door. Rather than play, he spent the first ten minutes standing next to my legs and watching the kids climb up into the tree, which then spit them out a huge green slide faster than a Duggar family rabbit.
After several minutes of cajoling/firm pushing/passive-aggressive threats, he finally consented to climb into the mouth of the beast, ever-so-cautiously - immediately causing a massive traffic jam as eleventy-million less-fearful kids tried to climb over him to get to the slide. When he finally reached it, rather than jump in to escape the madness and slide to freedom, he locked up and started crying.
Unfortunately, from where he was up inside the tree, there was nothing we could do to extricate him, so we had to talk him back down the way he came. You could tell which kids in the tree had siblings, since they were the ones trying to calm him down and offering to slide with him, but he was having none of it.
I'm not sure which was more heart-breaking, the fact that he was so scared and we couldn't do anything about it, or the fact that the kids inside were very concerned about the "little girl" that was crying.
This is all very much in character for Finn. He's extremely shy and cautious, traits that he must have inherited from me and that I'm honestly very surprised are hereditary. If he can inherit that stuff, what other weak traits of mine will start showing up? I really hope he doesn't inherit my laziness.
Or I would hope that if I had the energy. Hoping is hard.
In addition to the shyness, he's also a little afraid of the dark - which he appears to have inherited from his Mommy, and which we're combating with the mantra of "the dark is my friend". This sounds kind of silly and forced when he says it - and is not nearly as true as the title of this post - but I can't judge on the dark thing, since I used to break into a sweat whenever I had to answer a question in class.
It wasn't until I discovered a little known magic cure for shyness that I was able to overcome these issues, but I'm a little uncertain about sharing this secret with Finn.
People tend to frown when you buy beer for a two year old.