Sometimes the thrill of hearing Julian say a new word, or a new sign, figure out the way the pieces go on the puzzle, are quickly followed by a pang of fear. This is too fast. Just a few days ago he drank out of a full glass of water on his own. Maybe this doesn't seem like a huge deal to you, but for me, it was bittersweet and monumental. I have been trying to teach him to use a little juice glass for a while. It is perfectly sized for his hands, and I want him to feel like everyone else, with his own glass. Every time he would try, he would just go for it, water would end up all over his food, now mush, and he would cry from the shock of cold running down his tummy. For a while after those few first times, he just wouldn't try, and would just hold the glass out for me to handle for him while he took little sips. He needed my help. Omi has been drinking out of her little juice glass for a while. Julian would always watch her as she gracefully picked up her glass, took her sips and then set it down with out spilling it, letting out a refreshing "Ahh" and a little lip smack. I could tell he wanted to be able to do the same, but he was a little afraid, after all, who wants to have cold water running down their tummy?
Then the other day, we came in to have lunch after a long walk in the summer heat. I set the table for lunch, with the little forks, the real plates, the real little juice glasses. He looked at his glass, full of cold water, and he got it. He carefully picked up his glass, looked at it again, looked at me and tilted it just a bit to take a few little sweet baby sips. I just watched him. I didn't want to make a fuss about it just yet, I didn't want to interrupt him. He kept going, and eventually, was full head flung back, getting the last little drops of water. He put the glass down, and his chubby little fingers reached for his beans. And that was it. I congratulated him, claps and "good job!" and of course, Omi followed suit and clapped for him as well. Baby high fives were exchanged (with a little prompting). Now he drinks out of his glass at meal times.
That little step of independence a good thing, even though it is a little unsettling. It is nice to be needed, the knowledge that one day he will not really need me for anything, honestly, is a little sad. His conquest of the juice glass was a preview of this, but it just felt too soon. Some other parents may be able to relate to this when their child first learns to crawl or walk, or start to communicate. This was the first time he had a (somewhat) long term struggle with something, and figured it out on his own, with out my help. Isn't this one of the main goals in raising children? To ensure that our children will be fully independent and capable adults, that they will not need us. What a paradox. A bittersweet paradox. I try to remember this often. Especially in the times when his requirement of assistance is frustrating or tiring, or especially smelly. Like all of the times I have to try and teach him to clean up after himself, instead of just putting his things away myself, which would be faster. Or when he drops his car behind the couch for the 100th time and can't quite reach it. He won't always need or want my help, so I want to be there to help him with the things I can, while I can.
For now, I will try and enjoy his dependance on me, but hold on to it with an open hand. It is ok that one day he will not need me, that is healthy, he will eventually be a big strong man who can tie a tie and ask a women out on a date. I will try and treasure the fact that he still needs me to help him get his clothes on, keep his bum clean, go up and down the stairs, and especially when he needs a middle of the night snuggle session, waking me from sweet dreams of living in Paris, eating some cheese with a delicious glass of wine and a cashmere beret. Hopefully that woman he takes out on a date will be thankful that I won't need him to need me. In advance, you are welcome.