I’ve already told you about Oscar climbing the stairs. That began before he was even standing on his own. Now he’s going from seated to standing and vice versa without holding onto anything. But still not actually walking.
Well, he’s kind of walking. He’ll walk while holding on to our fingers, his little legs moving faster than his upper body can keep up so he reminds me of an Oscar version of the Roadrunner cartoon, accompanied by raucous laughter and the occasional crunch, splat, or boom.
More and more often, though, he’s connecting the dots. He’ll stand up, touch his fingertips to the edge of the coffee table, and walk as far as his arm’s reach will allow. He then drops his arm, pausing for a moment to stand proudly on his own, and then he reaches out for the next landmark—the edge of the couch, the foot of the stairs, the rocker, the toy box: connecting the dots.
When he first started to pull himself up to stand at each of these spots, he would look at me with pride at his accomplishment. Now, that look comes to me in the pauses between, those breaths where he is standing on his own, suspended by his own will. He seems exhilarated, sometimes making his sound of approval, “Mmmm,” before moving on with careful concentration.
His is a gentle determination. He is so focused and diligent but never moves too far outside his comfort zone but always pausing a little longer, reaching a little farther, stepping a little faster or wider. Damon and I are the ones who want to test him—we’re so impatient—but he’s right to take his time. He’s learning to walk! Something he’s never done, at least in this life.
I think about how I approach new challenges and lessons, with a tendency to be all in, high expectations, never wanting to mess up but wanting to have it right the first time—it’s a ticking bomb. Therapy has taught me that expectations are often just pre-meditated disappointment. And it’s okay to dive head-first into something new, and it’s okay to want to get it right the first time, but rarely do those two approaches correlate—which brings me back to disappointment. And impatience.
I’ve seem children that started walking as soon as possible, throwing themselves into it with gleeful (and sometimes tearful) abandon, proving that walking is an act of sustained and suspended falling, and coming up with the black-and-bruises to wear as badges of that learning curve. Oscar seems to be of the more cautious variety, carefully exploring each moment, breathing into each position, slowly extending the borders of his comfort and confidence. It is methodical. And there is a real, deep joy in the process for him.
You want to learn mindfulness? Come over to my house. Oscar is teaching us about connecting the dots. This kid, this little joy-boy—we have so much to learn.