step away

Originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.
today at the pumpkin patch, eva stood up and began to walk toward me. i stepped out of her path, and found that this time her destination was not me. she headed across the little field, and only after she had travelled fifty feet or so did i figure out where she was going. she was headed back to the stack of baby pumpkins (gourds, i suppose) that we had been enthusiastically examining together a half hour before. she had a destination in mind, and off she went, without either communicating her intention or requring my help.

monday night eva decided to walk. two days later, she seemed to cross that threshold of walking more than she crawled. two days after that, today, she walks nearly always, unless there is something tangible interfering with her doing so.

i don't know how long it generally takes a toddler to go from casual to serious walking-as-transportation, but this seems fast to me. not in terms of "isn't she amazing" (but bipedalism is pretty amazing no matter how you slice it), but in the sense of "wait, where are you going all of the sudden?"

and suddenly, there she goes.

every day since the day of her birth, or even since the day of conception depending on your perspective, eva has needed me less than she did the day before. slowly, she learned how to control her limb movements, how to comfort herself until i arrive, how to interact with (and endear herself to) those around her, and how to communicate her needs.

she's been able to crawl for months, yet where has she gone? crawling, i think, doesn't instill the same sense of independence and self-efficacy that walking does. maybe it's due to those indentations left in one's hands by pointy rocks, but in all her crawling she didn't seem ready to just forge off on her own. she always turned back. but now in a few short days of walking, i can see her stepping away. i don't mean to be overly dramatic (she'll still need me for years, decades, to come), nor am i particularly melancholy about her newfound independence, but the fact remains: she's on her own more today than she was on monday. she can choose her own destination. she can explore new spaces, crossing new terrain on the way. and she will face more dangers and risks in doing this.

i never know if i'll be ready for these new challenges when they arrive (and i'm not really sure, even now), but i'm so excited for her. i somewhat anxiously watched her walk across a crowded field today, avoiding oncoming preschoolers and an oblivious guy with a wheelbarrel. she reached her goal of those baby pumpkins, both without incident and without help. so you go ahead and step away, eva, and i'll be right here behind you ready to pick you up after a hard fall, until that day that you no longer need my help. and even then, i'll still be here, just in case.

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