My oldest grandson grows more fearless and daring each day. I am fascinated as I watch him; it is as if I am watching a dance I have not seen in a long time. He just learned to climb up the rungs of the high bar stools to reach the seat; his mother caught him just as the chair was about to tip backward. Last night he pulled his small chair over to the wall so he could reach the light switch – on/off, on/off, on/off like a strobe. He walks forward while looking backward to check if the cats or dog are following him and bumps into the wall or falls. He walks upright rather than crawling up the steps while his body sways and bends like Gumby, and my strong grasp pulls his rubber legs up each step.
My grandson has been slow to talk, and we were worried. A professional evaluation determined he was high functioning because he understands what we say and can follow directions. It may take four or five requests, but that is his way of showing us who is in charge. The therapists assured us that boys often develop motor skills before verbal skills.
Every day he fine-tunes those motor skills. He climbs up and down the sofa over and over again. He has mastered all the chairs now. He climbs on the outstretched footrest of the sectional recliner. He jumps up and down on its edge and it moves with each jump. Still, he is able to balance without falling and reaches the seat where he jumps some more or climbs up the back to look out the window or pester the cat that often reclines across the top. He crawls over the armrest and places his head down as if to execute a somersault, but then he just slides over. He saves the rolls and flips for the bed. Today he flipped his Ikea Poäng chair on top of himself and peered out from underneath with a look of bewilderment. The afghan blankets are pulled to the hardwood floor from the sofa and act as a ‘slip and slide’ for the inattentive. My grandson slides on the blanket; sometimes he balances through the slide and sometimes he falls on his butt. In the hours before bedtime, he runs on fast forward as if trying to catch up with something.
As I sat at the bottom of the basement steps a few hours ago putting on my socks and shoes, I watched my grandson stand on tiptoes and put his head into the open dryer. I must begin to think more like a two-year-old. There is nothing safe. I must see every open door as an invitation and every object over two feet tall as a summit to be climbed.