It’s official. My little baby girl is now a toddler. Eva has been walking for over 4 months. She rarely sits still for more than 10 seconds. From the moment she was born I have eagerly watched her grow, absolutely fascinated by the things she does every day. I can almost see the new connections forming in her brain as she conquers each new skill. Learning to rollover, sit up, crawl, walk. Grasp, point, open, close. Eat, smile, laugh, and cry. Ok, crying she had down right out of the gate.
By contrast, my physical abilities are slowly fading. A few months ago, when Eva was on the verge of walking, she would hold on to furniture for balance. As I stood watching her one day, I realized I was doing the same. Last year over the 4th of July, I went for a hike in the mountains of Colorado. I walked steadily with Eva in her infant carrier. This year I found myself stuck on a chaise lounge, unable to get up without a hoist from my in-laws. Eva chased birds in the yard. I watched from the deck.
Today, she motored about the house like the Energizer bunny, getting into everything, while I focused on each step to follow. Good thing I have long legs. But when Eva falls, she goes down quick on her butt. She gets right back up and keeps going. I have farther to fall, and getting up on my own is nearly impossible now.
Talking is Eva’s latest gig. She’s saying all kinds of things: mama, dada, grandma, grandpa, papa, flower, boo-boo, bubble, balloon, baby. Some names too: Amy, John, Robert (Scott is a bit more involved perhaps, and everyone butchers Kirsten). Her favorite word lately is “No.” As in response to “Eva, are you ready to go night-night?” We try hard not to laugh. I hope to continue my conversations with her for a long time. We’ll see.
Eva tests my ability to keep up every day. That’s a good thing. I need to stay active to keep my muscles in the best shape possible. She seems to be adapting well to my adaptive equipment though. She steals my cane from me sometimes. Then she’ll bring it back and hand it to me with a grin, as if to say, “It’s OK Daddy. You can do it.” She even helps push my new walker when we take a stroll down the block.
The most frustrating part of my day is not having the strength or energy to play with her as I’ve always imagined. But I do what I can. Without her, it would be easier to sit around and sink into depression. She gives me the motivation and the strength to keep going.
As her central nervous system grows and her abilities increase, a part of mine is dying. I often imagine that I’m transferring my mobility to her. If possible and necessary, I’d do it without hesitation. Instead, our brains are like two trains passing in the night. We are stuck on opposite tracks, steadily chugging along toward one another. We need to enjoy our time together as much as possible while we pass. I like to think her train is traveling faster than mine.