Timothy continues to crawl faster than I can walk, but is also trying to stand up. From a sitting position, he leans forward on his hands, then pushes his bum up in the air like a tent, and then tries to stand up. He can stand up wobbly for a few seconds and then begins his controlled crash back onto his diaper and topples onto his back. It’s neat to see, and because he rinses and repeats this act a few times in a row, he looks like a cheerleader working on his sideline moves.
Timothy has something of an interior decorator’s eye, but while some decorators specialize in wall hangings or pottery, TRBL is focusing his skills on floors. For example, at meal time, he likes to add accents to the dull hardwood floors with colorful peaches, beans and blueberries. Recently, Daddy may have left out the baking soda near the bathtub (and if that’s what happened, anyone could have made that mistake) and Timothy decided to create a small powdery art project on the floor of the bathroom. But Timothy is at his best in his bedroom, where he likes to pull all of the 75 or so books off his bookshelf, thereby creating a carpet of books for himself to crawl on. It’s fun to watch him body surf on his books until you realize that he has no intention of putting the books back on the shelf. After a few months of this de-shelving and re-shelving (apologies for using library jargon), we finally decided to remove most of the books from his bookshelf, which is limiting Timothy’s creativity, but has quietly reduced our back strain from book picking up.
Just about the highest praise we’ve received recently was from our doctor, who has eight young children at home. After watching Timothy crawling madly all around his office during an appointment, this father of eight turned to Laura and said ‘wow, you must be busy.’
A recent theme for our family this Fall has been learning to deal with separation. Elisabeth (our 17 year old in India) is adjusting well but it’s not easy getting used to a very different culture and environment and being separated from home. Timothy (our 2 year old starting pre school) is getting used to the separation from mom during the day. And Catherine (our 15 year old at home) is probably wishing at times that she had a little more separation from her family.
Of course, on the adult side, Laura and I are trying to get used to the idea of Elisabeth being way way far away for so long and of Timothy getting to pull someone else’s hair for a change.
I experienced a variation of that separation theme at work recently, when some friends moved out of our office building. The Wellstone Building in St Paul is where our Outward Bound offices are located. It has also been the home to a non profit called Midwest Training Systems (MTS), which helps employ adults with disabilities. Every day, I’ve run into many of the dozen or so adults served by MTS, whose disabilities range from Down syndrome to cerebral palsy to other disabilities. I see and talk with these folks and I have to admit that it can be a mixed bag for me. Occasionally, visiting with them reminds me of how much I worry about what the future holds for Timothy. Not because their lives seem bad – only because I worry about Timothy when he’s an adult. But on most days, I’m just brightened by their spirit and smiles, as they joke around, help each other get around and occasionally play a trick on us. I’ve mentioned that Timothy has an ability to brighten people up and bring out the best in them, and that’s exactly what these people do for me and the people I work with. Not because of their disability, but because their attitude.
I know that every one of us has joyfulness and playfulness sitting inside of us, but as we become adults and get busier, worrier and more self conscious, too often those bright qualities are like the little wooden blocks that Timothy loves to toss under the couch — not so easy to find when you could use them.
But these folks weren’t shy about letting out their joy and play. And while I’ll miss seeing them every day, I’ll remember their example to slow down and lighten up.
And maybe I’ll even do some more cheerleading.
Grateful, and maybe joyful and possibly even playful,