Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Walking Proof

Forgive the short post for now, but here's one of the first videos we got of Nathaniel walking. He's progressed a lot since, and he's now speeding his steps, so much, in fact, that he's tumbling all over the place, like drunk staggering out of a bar at closing time. It's as if his mind is moving faster than his legs can take him. That's where I want to go – now! Dang, why can't my fool legs get me there?

Meanwhile, we're witnessing some spectacular tumbles. Forward face plants. Backward butt landings. Sidelong, twisting turns that look like a pirouette gone awry. Eat carpet, little man. Each time, though, he bounced right back up and tries again.

You know, you can see the joy in his face with this walking thing. He really, really digs it. As Michelle noted, he relishes in seeing the world from this new vantage point, and he's now trying to grasp all of it at once. (She said it more eloquently, but you get the point.)

A month ago, Nathaniel was a crawler. Now, he's a walker. The transition has been incremental, I guess, but it still seems stunning when I think of it in its entirety. No wonder he seems amazed by it all.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Nathaniel is walking.

I'm a little late in letting you in on the news – about a month, in fact. So, let me catch you up on this monumental development.

Natty's walking saga began, as it does with probably all babies, with an accidental step or two as he went from clinging to one object (say, a table) to another object (like his miniature shopping cart). He had no idea what he had done, but Michelle and I sure knew. With a knowing glance and nod, we figured it would be just a few days before our little boy was strutting around the room.

How wrong we were.

For out of those "Oops! I walked" steps came a string of days when Natty did nothing else but crawl. I'd like to think we're generally laissez faire kind of folks, but after a while, we got impatient and wanted to see Nathaniel repeat his fancy little trick. So, we'd stand him up and coax him to walk toward us. We were mildly successful at our ploy. Mostly, Nathaniel would drop immediately from his contrived standing position to crawling and scoot over to us, a big grin flashing across his face. "Look, Mom, I'm here. I made it!" he seemed to be saying. He had no idea that we were trying to get him to attempt another form of locomotion.

So, we gave up. Better said, we shelved the idea of rushing the little guy into bipedalism. He'd learn eventually, we figured.

Eventually took some time. Yet, suddenly, we noticed him taking two, then three steps all by himself. We also noticed he was doing this with some regularity, mixing in occasional steps even as he mostly crawled. So, we started coaxing him again. Gently. No pressure, kid. We just want to see what you're capable of. 

Days before Christmas and a time when we'd be visiting my sister and her family, Nathaniel set his personal record by taking seven upright, stiff-legged steps to Daddy. We cheered. We clapped. We roared with delight.

And he reverted to crawling.

At my sister's house, however, the walking bulb finally went off. Nathaniel began walking more, not only stringing steps together but at times making walking his first choice of movement. I think it was because he watched his three cousins, and, admiring them greatly, wanted to mimic what they were doing. Plus, with sets of cousins and relatives in different rooms, I imagine he wanted to keep abreast of the action in as many places as possible. No matter, it appeared to be a decided change in mentality. Our little boy seemed to want to master walking.

Watching a baby walk for the first time (and times) is a mix of comedy and dread. The comedic part comes from watching the movement; in Natty's case, he looked like someone on stilts. His legs were stiff and he lurched from side to side. As he took each step, he looked perilously close to listing over. If one sway was too exaggerated, down he'd go. Or, he'd accumulate too much forward momentum and down he'd go. 

Those falls aren't particularly forbidding when you're a couple of feet off the ground and cushioned with fat and diapers but to a parent, it can be scary. After all, who wants to watch a child fall and possibly get hurt? So, that's the dread I'm speaking of. 

The kid-on-stilt phase lasted in earnest for a couple of weeks. This weekend, it really looks as if Natty Lou has opted for walking over crawling. We watched as he walked through the kitchen into the dining room (converted into his playroom), hung a right and walked through the playroom and into the den, stopping at the coffee table for a well-deserved congratulatory hug. You can see his confidence going with each series of steps. Yes, he's still stiff-legged, and no, he's not running, but he's much more fluid in his walking than he was even a week ago.

This time, there is no turning back. Our boy is walking, determinedly. Video to come soon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Year That Was

When I think about 2009, a lot of it seems a blur.

You know when in the movies, the director will evoke time passing by showing the pages flipping on a calendar? That's kind of how I felt in many instances last year.

Of course, the year was not without so many blessings and outrageous joy.

It was also a year turned inward, where my attention and affections were cast mostly upon wife and son (and dog, intermittently). I would say that Michelle and I are close, but Natty Lou's arrival tightened those bonds even more. It really felt like a nuclear family, and my perspective of home changed as well, I think. 

Not sure how to explain that exactly, but I guess the best way to say it is I was perfectly content to just plant my fanny on the sofa in the evenings, on the weekends, and just be with our little clan. 

That fanny planting never lasted long, however. There were always things to do, and the chores mushroomed with Nathaniel on the scene. I've written about many of those things already, so I'll go sparingly on the whining. Suffice it to say that a child's addition to a home presents a whole new dynamic to the family relationship. It brings such happiness, such wonderment at the creation of life and witnessing a child progress from a wholly dependent being to a caring, playful, tempestuous, yelling, giggling, cackling, blabbering, kicking, flailing, cooing, head banging, riotous, comedic person who, you never would think, actually wants to copy what you do and say. Natty Lou has been all that – and then some.

A real highlight had to be our week-long stay in Block Island with Michelle's brothers, sister and a sister-in-law. We couldn't have asked for crisper, more pleasant days to gaze from the back deck toward the shimmering Atlantic and Long Island, which appeared so close you think you could have swum to it. We hiked, we biked, we played games, we cooked gourmet meals (including lobster boiled in water straight from the ocean), we happy-houred, we swapped stories, we watched movies, and we simply hung out with ourselves and Natty. We couldn't have imagined a better trip.

We capped the year by traveling on Christmas Eve to my sister and her family's house. Unlike the first time the cousins saw Natty, this time they could play with him rather than simply cradle a blob-like being. Nathaniel basked in brotherly and sisterly love and attention. You could see how much he wanted to emulate them. I'll have to put up a video that shows Natty's seizing of the familial stage one night. It's a keeper.

So, here we are in a new decade, having ended a decade that no one seems able, or willing, to name. So be it. I'll take it. For me, the past decade ended just great. I can only hope this one will be as rewarding and fulfilling.