With the proper start of spring came Oscar’s first steps. He’d been walking while holding on to things for a while already, but by “first steps,” I mean he’s walking on his own, unassisted by holding on to anything. He is giddy with the accomplishment.
Weekday evenings go like this. We get home. He protests loudly when I put him in his playpen (so I can let the dogs out). I hear the song “Don’t Fence Me In” in my head as the soundtrack to his complaints. I bring the dogs back in, feed them, and liberate Oscar from his babycage playpen.
While I prep dinner, little man sets about his work. He grabs his walker—it’s like taking a taxi for a new toddler—and zooms through the living room, through the dining room, into the kitchen… and into the back of my legs, often enough. There he stops, grabs the hem of my shirt or scarf, walks around me on tiptoes, grinning up and gleaming with pride. He lets go of my hem, toddles across the kitchen floor, arms outstretched for balance, laughing with raucous glee at his success and sheer daredevilry (is that a word?).
With each step, he laughs harder, till by step eight or nine he’s doubled over and falls down to his knees. He looks up at me again, bright-eyed, then crawls or walks back to his walker, and off he zooms for another cab ride around the house.
Repeat ad infinitum.
We take a break for dinner, then it’s immediately back to the races. He doesn’t even have time for the stairs anymore. Stairs are so two-months-ago. No, now it’s all about the perambulation. He doesn’t even stop for the dogs, poor things—they do their best to stay out of his way.
By seven o’clock, he’s tiring out but far from slowing down. Still zooming and testing and walking and testing in his constant toddler circuit training course. I think he would probably keep going till he just passed out on the floor, legs twitching, but when he starts stumbling and complaining more, Damon and I nod to each other that it’s time to intervene and put him to bed.
I carry him upstairs, and he complains all the way, reaching back, wanting to movemovemove! But by the time he hits the changing table, the thumb’s in his mouth, he’s rubbing his eyes, and his giggles are interrupted here and there with monstrous, jaw-cracking yawns. I take off his shoes (if they even lasted this long) and find his feet steaming hot and damp with sweat. I pull his socks as far as they’ll go before popping off of his feet—this always makes him laugh—and as the cool air hits the hot, damp skin of his feet, he slaps them against the end of the changing table as if to congratulate them on a job well done, flexes his toes, and grins up at me.
I love the punctuation of those smiles, each one marking a beat, an acknowledgment that passes between us. I used to measure out our time together in feedings. But now? Now I measure it in those smiles.
And lots (and lots and lots) of baby steps.