First we opened the refrigerator. Then we took out the apple juice. I reached for our stainless-steel milk frother, imagining another use for it. Together we poured apple juice into it, then I released it, with difficulty, into the toddler hands that wanted so much to do it "all by myself."
He began to pour the juice into the clear, plastic, rocket-shaped, frozen-treat-wonder receptacles. I reached in to prop up the pitcher's underside.
"No! All by myself."
I released again, watching and wondering, What was I so concerned about?
He spilled. I took a paper towel and blotted around the ice pop molds.
He continued to pour. I want him to have this experience, I told myself. I want him to learn to pour, and spill, and then keep pouring, complely unstoppable, until the ice pop-starts are done.
And still part of me wanted to help him do it. Why? Was I that afraid of such a minute amount of apple juice spilling again?
He poured all the way to the top of one of the six molds resting, rocket-ship-tip down, in a tray which held them firmly vertical. He stopped pouring. A slight juice dome bulged over the mold top. We looked at it, deciding.
"That one is too full. You can drink some out of it," I suggested.
He leaned forward and drank some. Excess juice spilled out. He smiled and leaned forward to drink again. He kept drinking out of the mold until he could drink no more. Then he moved to the next mold and continued.
My heart rate sped up.
"What about the ice pops?" I asked. "If you keep drinking, there won't be enough to make them." Then I realized we had plenty of apple juice left.
He kept drinking, smiling between sips, rotating the tray to move to the next juice-filled mold.
I sat down next to him. "Can I have one?" I asked. He nodded, and I took a rocket-ship juice cup out of the holder and drank. It tasted slightly sweet and highly fun.
Ice pops can wait.