It’s been almost two years since we discontinued occupational therapy for Leta’s gross motor skill development, and since then she has shown remarkable progress. Her gait is strong and mostly balanced, give or take a few stumbles here, a wobble there, but that has nothing to do with her development and everything to do with the vodka.
She’s learned how to run, mostly in circles around the living room while singing songs in Spanish, and because we have a full staircase in this house, one that leads downstairs to her bedroom, she’s learned how to climb stairs, albeit while holding firmly to the railing. She’s fully capable of going up and down the stairs by herself, but she’s always clamoring for one of us to hold her other hand. We indulge her occasionally because she’s known to transport two tons of plastic crap from one hovel to another, but then there are those moments when we force her to do it by herself, force her to make that epic trek up fifteen treacherous steps alone, and what do you know, this causes her to lie on the ground and writhe. So unpredictable, that one.
Yesterday morning I forced her to walk down the stairs alone, and when we both got to the bottom she was so exhausted from complaining about it that she said, “I need to lie down on you, Mama.” Recounting this makes it seem a lot weirder than it actually was, but I got down on my back right there on the floor, pulled her into a snuggling position on top of me, her head tucked under my chin, and we lay there together while she regained composure. Three minutes later she stood up and said, “I’m okay.” I imagine that this will become more complicated, say, when she’s in college and is frustrated about her Calculus homework, and she’s lying there on top of me on the floor of the lobby of her dormitory.
In the last week or two Leta has finally learned how to jump, and I know that this doesn’t seem like a big thing as this is how crickets spend their entire lives, but it is a huge thing, a joyous thing, a now-we-can-exhale-that-breath-we-were-holding-for-two-years thing. I’m sure she picked it up at school, saw the other kids propelling themselves off fences or cars and decided, hmm, I wonder if this strange phenomenon would enable me to reach the Skittles in the cabinet above the refrigerator?
So she comes home from school one afternoon and goes, oh hey, you over there, come see what I can do. And then she bends her knees and launches her body three centimeters into the air. I’m sorry, but that is not enough warning for such an event. “Come see this” and a welcoming wave of the hand is not a gesture that does this sort of milestone justice. She should have driven an ATV through the front door and hurled a flaming chicken at my face. Then I would have had the heads up that hey, maybe I should pay attention.
It’s not a high jump, no, and I won’t be signing her up for any dunking contests, but when her feet leave the ground there is a tiny, measurable block of air that separates her feet from the earth. The distance from here to the stars is a lot bigger than that, I know this, but if you take that enormous distance and convert it to centimeters, well then Leta just got a little closer.