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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Baby Steps

At four, Lily has decided she doesn't like my musical selections. Even when they're hers she doesn't like them. So when we drive to daycare in the mornings, she and her older sister take turns, and sometimes we (Emma and I) call Lily's turn, "The Sound of Silence". But it's not a reprise of the ol' Simon and Garfunkel ditty, it is instead, no song. Despite telling me she'd like the Backyardigans, "no song" on the Backyardigans album was deemed acceptable as I scrolled through them. So this morning at the conclusion of her perseverative "I no like dis song eeber!" as I switched off the stereo and we pulled silently up to the entry of the daycare to my comforting "okay, Lily, no more song. . . ", she settled back into her car seat to wait for me to unbuckle her.

Directly behind me, Emma unbuckled her seat belt and climbed out of the car as I got out and walked past her around the back to open Lily's door. I reached in and took Monkey from her. Monkey is one of those vecro-palmed clingy stuffed animals that Lily alternatively calls monkey or "Brownie" (he is, in fact, brown). I held Monkey between my legs and unbuckled Lily from her car seat.

"Let's go find your sister, Lil", I said.

"Go fin' sisser!" she responded, happily, rising from her seat.

Lily is uncomfortable with big steps, she has some visual attentiveness issues on top of some developmental challenges, so that first step out of the car is a doozy for her. She really has to marshall her resources before she moves ahead with the whole. . . door-egress operation.

She put one hand on top of the open door and got ready to step off. She hesitated at the brink, and put her other hand on the car door, then stepped uncertainly, but didn't let go of the door. She swung over to the door, dangling from the frame, suspended by her hands, grasping, white-knuckled at the door frame. She stared up at her hands questioningly as if to say. . . "what the hell just happened?" Her feet were no more than an inch above the ground, but still she clung, hanging on as if in mortal peril.

I watched her, a third amused, a third curious, a third concerned. The concerned part wanted to zip in behind her and lower her gently to the ground, but curiosity and amusement won out. I was not even aware she was able to support her entire body weight in that manner. And because she doesn't always play "traditionally", i've never, for example, seen her use monkey bars. Nor did I really believe in my heart of hearts that she possessed the physical strength required. So I watched her, warily, ready to rescue if required, but curious how she'd extricate herself from this tricky door dangling emergency.

She let go perhaps two seconds later, dropping lightly to the pavement. I congratulated her, giving her a big hug and her stuffed monkey and we went to join her sister on the stoop.

One small step for man. . .