Friday, October 28, 2011
Onward, upward, forward!
The world looks different when you're standing up. For months now, I've been peering over the edge of cribs and playpens. First I gripped the top bar as hard as I could and pressed my face to the side. When I pulled myself up on my tiptoes, I could just point my nose over the side. Just enough to look imploringly at the big folks, Mommy, Daddy... even le Petit, though he's too small to pick me up. I suspect if he could he'd help me make a break for it. I can stand and watch him play with his Legos through the mesh fabric of the playpen, or now that I'm tall enough, clear over the top, and almost forget I'm stuck turning in circles in four feet square. Now there's Up. And Down. And I get to decide. Soon after I learned to pull myself up, I learned to push myself forward. Suddenly the world had three dimensions, and things that once looked abstract turned out to be real -- I know, because I've checked them out now personally. There's the couch, for instance: it's solid, but also squishy and soft; it's kind of white and kind of gray but when I look at it closely I see different spots and colors that I can poke with my fingers. (Mommy sees the same ones sometimes, but they don't seem to make her too happy for some reason.) I can pull myself up against it and lean into it, and slap it with my hands, and it makes me laugh. But I don't stay put. I walk along the edge, and then I see that the couch isn't that far from the coffee table... and I start to think... hey, if I stabilize myself by leaning on the outside of the playpen I can make it from one to the other without even dropping to the floor! The floor. The floor! It's covered with countless fabulously tiny things, and though Mommy keeps sweeping, I still find stray rice grains and crumbs and bits of fuzz that flee my fingers. Grandpa worries that I'll eat the gravel that travels inside on everyone's shoes. Maybe I already have. I'll never tell. To be honest, though, I've spent enough time on the floor crawling. I'm starting to suspect, a little more each day in fact, that two limbs are more efficient than four when your biggest goal in life is moving forward. So I've become a bit obsessed with figuring out this walking thing. When I'm lucky, someone big will hold my hands -- at first I needed two, but now one will do -- and help me put one trembling foot in front of the other. The house has been reduced in my head to an ensemble of points A and points B. Coffee table to high chair leg; bookshelf to dining room chair. I choose my itinerary so as to stay as close to the action as possible. I love to stand up next to the bathtub while le Petit is taking a bath. Yesterday, when Mommy was busy helping le Petit with the soap, I intrepidly dropped one of her slippers into the water. (I'm pretty clever. They're figuring that out quickly these days.) Not that I'm always moving, mind you. Part of the deal with propelling yourself forward, I'm learning, is mastering standing still. I plant my feet kinda wide apart, bend both knees, and slowly stand up. Concentration is key. I hold myself stable for one breath, two, and then I slowly, cautiously lower myself back down. I keep practicing, often in the middle of the room by myself when there's nothing else exciting going on. I stand up and look around, then sometimes Mommy applauds and I smile so wide. On the 24th of September -- may the date be recorded for posterity -- I stood at the edge of the couch. I spied the cabinet just a few feet away. I gauged the distance. And I let go. Daddy glanced over in time to see the top of my head bob with each hesitant step. Though I didn't know it at the time, it was practically the same launching pad le Petit chose three and half years ago. Mommy missed the moment, and I wasn't ready to try again; I'm prudent, you see, and affronting gravity once was enough at first. But N, who looks after me while Mommy it at work, likes to help me walk up and down the hallway. She also takes me to the park where I can hold her hands and stride sure-footedly with a cute pair of pink shoes, but where she refuses unjustly to let me crawl on the ground... tisk-tisking that it's dirty or some such thing. So I started taking steps here and there, but never when Mommy was around. Until this weekend. This weekend I took off. Hold out your hands ready to catch. Watch! Grandma is terrified. Mommy is apprehensive. At the same time I'm learning to climb, you see. Mommy thought her cell phone was safe pushed back up onto the seat of the couch, but no. If le Petit knew the designs I have on his Lego corner, he'd be worried, too. "Fini la tranquilité," Grandma says. Mommy agrees, but doesn't hide that she's more than a little bit proud.