My husband and I alternated walking side by side and single file as the narrow trail allowed. Our son ran ahead. His feet, protected only by socks, easily handled the path's contours. His tousled hair caught the sunlight, a two and a half year old sun of the earth. He was all light and light, having emerged like golden bird from his growth spurt.
We paid for our son's newest achievements, which I soon will describe, with sleepless nights, early risings, late bedtimes, hunger pangs, pickiness, bad tempers, unhappiness, tears, stubbornness, fidgetiness, upsy downsy. Everything, anything you can imagine. When we were a couple days into it, my husband and I agreed, "Growth spurt." "This is awful. My nervous system needs a vacation," I continued. But, I forget sometimes. It feels like it will never end.
Mid-growth spurt, I wonder, "Is this my child? So irritable, so needy? I'm so irritable, so needy." My husband and I make big plans, desperate plans. Night weaning. His own room. Yet, I know he will look for me, "Momma?" When the sun rises, my husband and I take turns taking breaks. I blow my top. feel guilty. I feel entitled. I yell. I apologize. We talk. I console. We read books. I do elaborate things to pass the time, and am upset when they fail or end in tears.
And so, trailing behind my sunlit child, his hair a white candle against the green earth, I watch him move with joy. This is my child, but so is the fiery whip for whom I brewed teas of catnip and lemon balm, whose sippy cup I spiked with skullcap tincture, whose demands drove me from the room, counting, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10... tears in my eyes, hands clenched.
We stopped at this trail because a couple miles back our son said, "Off, off," as he tugged at his pants. "Do you have to pee?" my husband asked. "Mmm, hmm," was the reply. "Can you wait? Can you hold it?" We turned down a quieter road. Driving fast, we passed a perfect gravel pull off and found nothing but a narrow shoulder and roadside ditches. At last, we came to a parking lot for a hiking trail. Our son happily blessed the parking lot.
I felt like a real adult, a real parent. I think about my parents pulling off the road to let my brother pee. The phrase "full circle" is usually used for events more, well, event-like, but I felt as though I was my own parents.
Our son runs on and on and arrive at a pond. We see a little heron escapes into the nearby forest. We watch planes fly low overhead. A trio of turtles climb onto a partially submerged tire in the center of the pond. One tiny, two larger. "Momma, Momma," he calls them. A great blue heron flies over, a red-tailed hawk is chased by crows, a turkey vulture on drunken wings loops by. A towhee calls from a crabapple. On the trail back, a rabbit jumps into the thicket. At our feet, wild strawberries bloom. We pull garlic mustard for dinner and cleavers for tea.
And what is new?
A potty "trained" child - my son is untrainable. He does it his way, himself, with guidance from the adults around him.
"Mouse's house" - Stringing two words together. He describes the block house he's built and who it belongs to.
Walking up the stairs, alternating feet.
Pulling on his pants, as though he's done it his whole life.
Increased consciousness of needs, "Food" "Water"
And, all the trees leafed out. Spring happened up in the canopy.
I wish I remembered when he went through the growth spurt that brought about imagination. That's a growth spurt or two back now. That was amazing to see.