Jazz hands

Last week we got an email from our daycare that Olivia had started walking on her own. They were tending to another child when they noticed that she just stood up, walked from one side of the room to the other, poured herself a cup of coffee and then sat down to read the newspaper (like any normal toddler would). We're not a coffee drinking house, so that part took me by surprise. The walking though, we couldn't have been happier.

 I went to pick her up that evening, and the daycare workers were excited to bring me in to see her. I went into the play room and, sure enough, she was walking. Then she noticed I was there, plopped right down on the floor and began crying. I comforted her, told her how proud I was and, even though her gait was a bit Frankenstein-ish, congratulated her for getting enough votes to move on to the Las Vegas portion of the talent competition.

 I was excited to get her home, to where she might feel more comfortable and thus willing to try again. I had big plans to have her walking as a surprise when mom got home. I envisioned waiting for her to enter our apartment, and then sending Olivia off into her arms like a newly christened ship (minus bashing her over the head with a bottle of champagne). The reality was not so thrilling: Mom gets home and walks in, I whisper words of confidence and encouragement into baby girl's ear, let her go and...she plops back down on the floor and cries again.

 We've been trying to convince her to walk more on her own, but she's not as enthusiastic as we are. She's been very clingy as of late, and would rather us carry her around or hold her hand to walk. I've been waiting for the hand holding to begin for a while now, partly out of being the proud parent who'll help out my child as she learns to be mobile and partly out of dread for how sore my back will be from doing this. I'm a tall, lanky drink of water at 6'3", which means I'm slightly hunched over while walking with her. So either she needs to learn how to massage my back after our walks together, or I have to get her some platform shoes. I must admit, I'm partial to ones with goldfish in them.

 So far the way we do get her to walk on her own is to turn it into a game. Normally it involves mom on the couch holding baby girl, with me a few feet away. Mom psyches her up, gets a big smile on Olivia's face, and tells her to walk my way. She locks eyes with me, takes some big breaths, lets go of mom and initiates what has become the most important part of her self locomotion thus far:

 Jazz hands.

 She's smiling ear to ear, walking straight towards me and throwing some of the meanest jazz hands I've seen this side of a Broadway musical. I'm smiling back at her, showing her how proud and happy I am, while at the same time trying hard not to laugh my ass off at what she doesn't realize she's doing. Who knows, maybe she's fully aware of her jazzy hands. Maybe daycare likes to show their kids musicals and teach them dance moves in the hopes of creating a new generation of Broadway talent. Whatever the case may be, I'm looking forward to seeing my baby walking on her own, and bringing home a Tony award one day.