Monday, December 17, 2007

Oh Boy--Look Who's Walking

We took these videos yesterday. I am not sure why a picture doesn't show up on the second one, but the video does work fine. They capture not only Miguel's new walking skills, but also his mother's verbal tics. Ack!

We need a story about when Miguel learned to walk. Other parents have these sun ray bursting through the clouds memories about the precise moment their child entered the exclusive club of bi-pedalism. My folks talk about the way I strode towards a blue jay and never looked back (adding symbolism to precision). A friend's daughter suddenly started walking at a pool this summer, which must have been joyous as well as slightly scary!

For the last few months, we have been ready to catch Miguel's first steps and weave them into some kind of tall tale. But we have been hampered by a lack of consensus on what counts as walking.

One mid-October evening, as Michael and I were leaving for a date, I saw Miguel take 2 stumbling steps forward to Jessica, his beloved babysitter, who was holding his bottle. I clapped and cheered (while briefly allowing myself to secretly wish he had walked to us) and figured he was well on his way to running circles around us all.

In the weeks that followed, he would repeat this two step every now and again, but it was more spatial miscalculation than walking. Some time around Thanksgiving, my dad, who was on a mission to facilitate and witness this milestone, got Miguel to lurch to his favorite new "toy," a tape measure. My dad retracted the tape, which had a magnetic and distracting effect on Miguel. He stumbled forwards, but then swayed back and landed on his bottom instead of letting momentum pile him in a face first heap of frustration. According to my dad, this was progress.

After Thanksgiving, we were back into the day care routine, and it is there that I suspect Miguel started taking off. On Thursday, Nov 29th, Kelly mentioned he had taken about five steps, and that he was really starting to walk. Really? I was a wreck dropping him off the next day. How could we be letting ourselves miss out on so many of these memories?

But he is not a wreck. Every day he wakes up with a smile on his face, ready to explore, love and be loved--by us as well as his relatives, friends and care givers.

And I am not convinced this walking story is finished. He tends to drift to the right instead of walking forward and he still has to pull up on something to come to a standing position. I think it's related to the torticolis. His physical therapist asked that we call her when he is routinely taking 10-15 steps at a time, which I will declare as having happened this weekend. Or maybe it was last week. . . .All I know is that it's getting harder and harder to keep up with him!


Lisa said...

(What videos?) Same here with Violet! I did make a mental and later physical note of the date V took her first couple of steps (Dec. 2) and I felt so grateful to have seen them! But it's hard to say they're really walking until they can make it at least across the living room, right?

Anonymous said...

Bravo! Gin, I look forward to hearing your Academy Award acceptance speech!

Karl said...

On 12/22, I picked up Gin, Michael and Miguel at BWI airport for their Xmas visit to B-more. When I had last seen Miguel at Thanksgiving in Chicago, his "walking" consisted primarily of sliding sideways along a wall or some other solid support and, occasionally, taking 2 or 3 halting and unsteady unsupported steps, followed by an unceremonious sit-down (as Gin described in the main blog entry). Only a month had gone by, and that was the picture I had in my mind when I played with him at the airport while G&M were in the restroom. (I regrettably had not read this blog entry.) He made it clear that he was tired of sitting, so I clumsily held him by both arms from above and behind, while he stumbled around the hard concrete floor. Suddenly, Michael appeared and said, "Uh, it’s OK, he can walk now." I incredulously released his arms, and off he went, steady and confident. I just stared, wide-eyed and speechless. When I found my tongue, I just said, "But only a month ago . . . Boy, I’ll remember this sight forever." He had changed so much in so little time.

Over the holiday, we took a trip to Charlottesville, and I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Miguel, both alone and with the family. There is a lot of history in that place--both generally speaking (it was the home of Thomas Jefferson) and personally speaking (I went to school there at the University he founded). So it was easy for me to recall a lot of stories to tell him about my own past, and that of his mom, and of Monticello and the University. We talked and strolled and played and napped, and it was really great to be there with him, at one of my favorite places on earth. Objectively speaking, though, not a lot happened.

But wait. As we all chatted and swapped stories, there in that historical place, I heard myself frequently use expressions like, "When I was in school", "when your mom was little", "when Mr. Jefferson lived here," followed by a narrative of some event that was personally or historically significant. And yet I suspect that, at the time, had you asked me (or, dare I say, the master of Monticello himself) what was happening, the answer may well have been "Nothing of much importance. Just living my life." Those were the days. We look back fondly on them and remember.

The passage of time, and the cognitive processes involved in building memories, smooth off the rough edges of experience and erase subordinate details. Thus, we can look back, and summarize an entire course of study ("when I was in school"), an entire phase of human development ("when your mom was little"), or an entire momentous human life ("when Mr. Jefferson lived"), in a very few nostalgic words. But at the time, did we realize that those were the days we’d remember?

I blinked, and Miguel learned to walk. I’ll blink again, and he’ll learn to put words together into sentences. I’ll blink again, and he’ll be riding off alone on his bike, or getting his first tattoo, or going off to college, or meeting his life partner. And I’ll remember those days, and, later on, tell the stories.

Note to self: Don’t blink so much. These are the days.