Archive for the ‘Movement’ Category

Sometimes, when Miles is flipping out  — because I won’t let him stop to inspect a pebble covered in dog pee, or because I want to put the stroller away and go upstairs, or because the fridge magnets won’t stick to his kneecaps — I try to imagine what it must feel like to never be in charge and to be at the mercy of rules which seem needlessly arbitrary.

I mean, here he is, realizing he is a separate living being with volition.  And here we are, controlling his every move.  Miles, it’s time to put the train away and eat dinner.  Miles, it’s time to get out of the high chair and onto the potty.  Miles, it’s time to get off the potty and into the bath.  Miles, it’s time to get out of the bath and… you get the idea.  

Do not interrupt. I'm learning here!

He’s trying to learn things, like what fridge magnets will stick to, or how many books he can read on the potty (without peeing, of course!) before his butt falls asleep.  He wants to determine just how long it takes to go down three flights of stairs on one’s bottom, pausing every three of four steps to hum a song or point at a smoke detector.  This is important learning, of course!  And yes, the stairwell experiment must be repeated every time we leave or enter our apartment building.  For statistical accuracy!

"Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall..."

And meanwhile we are trying to make life go.  We’re feeding him, washing him, providing time and space for sleep.  I spend all day coercing him — while he obstructs all forward progress.  I coerce, and he obstructs.  I’ve started calling him my little obstructionist.  (I don’t want to know what he calls me.)

So I understand why sometimes, he has to take a stand and do something himself, on his own time.  And sometimes, whenever I can dig deep and find the patience, I let him.  Sometimes that means sitting in the stairwell for twenty minutes until I feel myself seething with a dull, ridiculous rage. 

Other times, it means standing back at a respectful distance and letting him work something out. 

Can he do it?

The eyes say, "Stay back!"

He did it!

Piece of cake.


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Miles has transformed my weekday morning departure from a sweet, simple goodbye kiss into a feat of acrobatics — not for Miles, mind you. For Momma.

No longer is he content with a doorway hug and kiss. Instead, he marches out to our landing and demands a kiss through each slot of the stair railing. Of course, the further away from the door he goes, the further down the steps Momma descends, leading to a reaching, leaning, pulling attempt to give him a peck on his perfectly puckered lips.

The first step is always the easiest.

About that pucker — it’s quite possibly the best part. I realize one day he will discover that the pucker we find so ridiculously adorable is not normal. He’ll suddenly get that the great big, wet pucker (which most definitely results in a great big, wet kiss) isn’t what other people do when they kiss.  And he’ll stop doing it. But for now we get this level of cuteness anytime he shares a kiss.

Give me a kiss.

Reach a little farther.

Sometimes Miles helps me out with our goodbye, squatting to the floor and reaching his face through at the lowest point in the railing. Other times he runs all the way to the end of the landing, perches on the ladder to our roof and pokes out his lips. I reach, Melissa cautions me not to injure myself, and Miles waits. He doesn’t seem to understand that Momma can’t levitate for one last kiss. So I kiss my fingers and press his toes (which is all I can reach from that spot) and say more goodbyes as I head down the stairs and out the door.

Bye bye.

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Perhaps my child has read “The Little Engine That Could” a few too many times.  Or perhaps I have.  In any case, here is our photo essay on the theme, “I think I can!”

Warming up.








Almost there.


Ta da!


I thought I could!

Okay, in truth this stepladder is super easy for him to climb.  He climbs it twenty times in a row when I let him — and he never stops looking so durn proud.

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He strikes again.

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Remember when I got all choked up about Miles eating his first Cheerios?  Well, breakfast is at a whole different level now.   Instead of a handful of Cheerios on a tray, he’s eating a bowl of Kashi with milk, using the spoon himself.  Robin and I actually just sit there and eat our own food.  It’s bizarre — and, of course, cute.   And I hardly ever cry about it.


Body art.




Shoving it in.

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Miles and Joe

One of the highlights of our trip West (yes, we are still wistful about vacation) was an evening of food and revelry with our friends Inder and Steve and their delightful, abundant-with-cheeks-and-curls son, Joe.  Steve cooked up a feast, Inder baked bread and cookies, and we gathered around the table with wine and stories.

Inder and I e-mail almost daily (along with a third friend), a tradition which began when I was miserably third-trimester pregnant and turned to her for hope.  Pregnancy was never-ending, I complained.  Would this baby ever get out of me?  Though she was toting her abundant-with-cheeks-and-curls infant around the house, swaddling and nursing and diapering, she found time to assure me that eventually, somehow, I would have the baby and move on. 

Because Inder had Joe six months before I had Miles, she is always just ahead of me on the parenting journey.  If we were in a covered-wagon caravan, she would be in the wagon in front of mine, holding up a lamp and shouting back warnings about coming dangers.  Childbirth, teething, solid foods, mastitis, temper tantrums — she hits them all before I do and tells me what to expect.  It’s amazing, really.  I couldn’t have planned it better myself.  (If you want to learn from her experiences as well, check out her crafting/cooking/parenting/gardening blog.)  She’s shockingly multi-talented.

The only drawback to this six-month age gap has been that Miles and Joe, in their infrequent get-togethers, haven’t figured out how to play together.  Joe is just bigger and stronger and more coordinated.  It’s not just the age difference though — Joe was climbing ladders well before the age of 18 months.  He’s an athletic kid!  Usually Miles stares in awe while Joe climbs things.  Instead of joining in, he placidly fiddles with blocks or opens a book.  The only activity they have truly done together is stare out the window looking for garbage trucks.

This time was different.  They ran, they climbed, they pushed cars, they tore magnets off of the refrigerator.  They even had a massive giggle-fest at the dinner table.  It warmed my heart — and not only because it seemed like a huge step in their friendship.  It also gave the adults a chance to relax, catch up, and sip some wine.  Now that’s vacation.

Truckin' along.


Chow fun.


Climbing buddies.

Toddler magnetism.

Yay! Friends!

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This evening Miles played in the bath, tossing toys against the wall and observing their falling patterns, avidly noting the splash each produced.  Toss, whack, plunk, splash.  I sat beside the tub, trailing my arm in the water, brimful of well-being.  Thinking, we have everything we need.What produced that magical and rare feeling?  Where does it come from?  It’s more than just the sense that bills will be paid on time, food will appear in the cupboards, and our roof will keep out the weather for another day — although those are wonderful things not to be taken for granted.  This feeling I had was more: it was utter life satiety, the sense that all is as it should be.  Of course, being fickle and human, I started thinking about how the happiness would pass and that I’d better capture it, figure it out, understand it.  I wanted to pinpoint where the feeling had come from so that I could replicate it and would NEVER EVER HAVE TO NOT FEEL THAT WAY AGAIN, for goodness sake! 

Our day had been a series of simple and mostly unplanned delights.  A risky waffle recipe that turned out beautifully.  An unexpected visit with the downstairs neighbors.  An effortless levity between Robin and me, in which each of us understood the other’s meaning without the need for explanations.  Miles taking licks of his Easter bunny’s ear and saying with great enthusiasm between bites, “Mmmm!”  The pleasant sourness of the vinegar in the Easter egg dye reminding me of childhood.  A spontaneous play date on the sidewalk with two sets of neighbors and their kids, toddlers running and jostling while the adults relaxed and bounced babies and made plans.  Let’s all get together again soon!  Let’s swap child care!  No one wearing coats, all of us thrumming with the optimism of Spring.  Miles so completely covered in sidewalk chalk he seemed to be a very short, cherubic rainbow.  After dinner, reading Miles books and burying my nose in the sweaty scent of his hair.  The three of us tickling and wrestling on the bedroom rug —  hugs, love, slobber, raspberries, laughter. 

Nothing major happened.  Yet there I was at the end of the day, sitting beside the bath, wonderstruck. 

This kind of happiness, I think, can’t be forced or summoned.  Sometimes the ingredients of ordinary life get jumbled together in just the right way, and I’m wildly grateful.

Sourdough whole grain waffles.
The sweet life.

Vinegar smell.


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