A walk with Wade

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. Some of it good, some of not so much. Some of it real and a lot of it less so. It’s that time again when the wheels fall off a bit but for now I’m just parked safely on the side of a quiet road instead of hurtling down a hill towards a swamp so it’s ok.

It was Wade’s birthday this week. 2 years old! Partly because I wanted to and partly because my annoying brain has been running riot this week, I didn’t plan anything for the day. I did have a party planned for the weekend but with temperatures forecast to be 40C, we cancelled it. Too hot. Too everything… We did a couple of small catch ups with family and friends instead which was nice.

I woke up the morning of his birthday with that strange mix of wanting to do something amazing for our beautiful child and feeling relieved that he is two and won’t know whether I did anything or not.

So I decided to take him for a walk. Not the walk I usually do, which is pop him in the pram and walk up the main road to the local cafe and enjoy myself immensely as I convince myself he is getting the thrill of all thrills playing with the grass on the lawn out the front. No, we went for a proper walk. We live at the bottom of a mountain which is one of the most beautiful places in Melbourne and yet I rarely see enough of it. That day, we drove up to the forest and spent half an hour walking 100 meters. It was beautiful. The eucalyptus trees that form the forest are very tall and very beautiful. Standing underneath them as they leap impossibly high on the slenderest of trunks is spectacular.

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Wade started walking a few months ago and is the physical embodiment of the word “toddler”. He toddles uneasily from one step to the other, lurching forwards or sideways as he tries to make his feet to catch up with his plans. Uneven ground is not his friend and I had to smile (ok, I snorted and guffawed) when he tried to look up to the tops of the trees. Almost cartoon like, his gaze started at the base of the tree and moved up, up, up, up….until his head was tipped right up to the sky and over he toppled! Impossibly cute.

He staggered and toddled at a painfully slow rate, stopping at every leaf and picked up every curled piece of bark that potentially harbours all manner of creepy crawlies. About half way along he stopped and put his arms out. I thought he wanted to be carried so I bent down but he put his arms around me and held me close instead. He likes to stand next to me and put his arm around my shoulder while I sit down next to him on the floor. He turns himself sideways, tucks himself into my armpit and leans against my body so that we both look ahead in the same direction. Sometimes he will pat my shoulder gently or stroke the back of my hair while we read a book together or something. That day, it was so we could look out into the forest together. He squashed his cheek up against mine and made a humming noise. We do this as a game. He sings or humms a note and we do the same so that he learns when two notes sound the same or are in tune when you sing. The vibrations of the notes match up instead of being off kilter and it’s something you can physically feel. He just thinks its funny.
So we are having this lovely moment, sitting on the forest floor with our arms around each other and humming notes, when he puts both arms around me, nestles his head into my neck…..

And bites me….

“Oh fiddle dee dee” I said calmly to myself which he thought was hilarious. He hardly ever bites but, for reasons known only to himself, he bit my cheek that morning too and realised that this is a tremendous way to make mummy say bad words.

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I spend a lot of time trying to put into words what it is about Wade that makes my heart explode every time. Ignoring his occasional flesh-gnawing tendencies for a moment, the way he hugs or makes contact is so full of language. I don’t know if that’s a parent/child bond that happens to everyone or if this is just him and me but we can have an entire conversation in the way he holds my hand or puts his arm around my shoulder.

I’ve considered the possibility that this dialogue is stronger because he hasn’t really started talking yet. He babbles away a lot and has a few words but is a long way from speaking freely. I’m terrified that when he does, this other language will disappear. I have to remember to spend time actually teaching him English because I feel that we understand each other perfectly. I have to constantly remind myself that not everyone will able to read a twinkle in the eye as “look out mum, I’m about to find some trouble to get myself into” or an upward jerk of the head means “pop!”…as in…the toast in the toaster goes “pop!”…I would like some toast please.
I came home from work the other day and mum and dad were minding Wade at our house until I got home. When I walked in the door, he saw me and walked really quickly across the room to reach me. I knelt down and he put his arms around my neck and pressed his whole body against mine. It was as though he didn’t want any gaps between us because the full length of his body from his chin to the tip of his toes was a part of this hug.

And he just stayed there.

With both arms wrapped as far as they could go in both directions around my neck and his chin resting over my shoulder. I am in the grips of a full body hug. He didn’t squeeze, move, cry or make a sound. Where most children who missed their mum might cry or cling on for dear life lest mum were to ever leave again, this hug was more of a fact than a plea.

You’re back…I missed you… I love you : FACT.

It was a deliberate, honest statement, free of motive and clear that he needed nothing in return. So we just stayed like that for as long as it took. It’s moments like these that I realise how free of ego he seems to be. I rarely see him shy or nervous or showing off for attention. He observes and connects with people in such a pure, matter of fact kind of way. When we go into a cafe or walk into a room of strangers, he will walk straight up to a table and observe them. It doesn’t matter whether they see him or talk to him. He is just interested in them. Invariably, people will have to turn and look at this tiny little dot with giant blue eyes peering at them through blue glasses….and then they are hooked. He will then give a little wave, which is less of a wave and more like he is squeezing a tiny rubber ball. Extra lucky people might receive a two-handed squeezy wave. Then he unleashes the smile. The one that lights up his face, turns his eyes into upturned crescent moons and presses them into the lenses of his glasses. Adorable. It can take some time to walk from one end of a room to the other when there are a lot of unmet friends to get through.

He is just so…..
No, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to describe it properly.

Happy birthday little man. Our little baby is growing up and you are more beautiful every day.

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16 thoughts on “A walk with Wade

  1. It was, but also for the pure ability of being totally present and in the moment. I felt like it was meditation in progress. Truly divine, and divine love

  2. Made me teary in the most wonderful way. I know we are lucky to have our incredible babies, but it is also true that Wade is fortunate to have landed in the lap of a very nurturing, perceptive, and gracious mum. Happy Birthday Wade, I really hope to be the recipient of one of those two-handed waves one day!

  3. Beautifully written! I don’t think you will loose that silent communication. My son and I were a lot like that when he was young. He is 9 now and I still get ‘looks’ and silent hugs full of meaning. Maybe not as often though. But I still treasure those moments that speak more of our love than words can say. Wade must feel a lot of love from you since he has learnt how to give it back 🙂

  4. Beautiful. I get those kind if hugs and y describe them so perfectly. (Of course, I also get a lot of the exasperation that comes with these good old terrible twos/threes too, so it balances out.)

  5. Sounds like a beautiful way to spend your gorgeous boy’s 2nd birthday. And I totally get the joy of those full body hugs and secret silent language. Amazing. Happy birthday Wade! x

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