She weaves in and out of the blue bike rack at the park, lifting her chubby leg over the low dip and slipping through the high loop. Over and over until one time the metal caught her foot and she performed a bit of a slow-motion twist fall meets pavement. I pick her and and dust her off, she welcomes my comfort. Yet, her cries protest until I place her two feet on the ground. Instantly with a smile and a squeal of delight, she sets back to her work of weaving.
She never wanted me to whisk her away to strapped in safety in some part of the playground better suited for babies. My girl, Harper, the brave, the fierce, the wild hearted. She wanted a chance to face her challenger again.
This girl, fourteen months old and only taking eight steps in a row, but she has mastered the routine of mounting the vintage suitcase to chair to end table to couch without help or permission. She didn’t even ask. She never checked with the endless associations of doctors and professionals and know-it-all's to see if it was appropriate behavior for a baby.
She’s a climber.
Sometimes this nagging choir enters my thoughts, instructing me on the dangers of such behavior and how I should immediately banish her to the ground in the name of safety. But, I can’t.
Because, I just can’t imagine beginning my child’s life with a stifling vocabulary full of… it’s too high and it’s too hard and it’s not safe and you shouldn’t try and you need to stay on the floor with all the other people.
One day, she’ll face a mountain, made of earth or trouble and what happens then? Enough voices of opposition will clamor for her attention, demanding surrender and retreat. And when she feels so small before her challenger, I hope there is at least one voice woven throughout her entire life that will stand with her, whispering it’s not too high, it’s not too hard, you can do it, baby girl.
After the bike rack weaving, she crawls to the base of the largest slide on the empty playground. She lifts her small, brave one-year-old body onto the edge and comes to stand. She places her hands on each side and with the fire in her, she takes a step and another and another. As if people have been using slides the wrong way for all of eternity. She stumbles a bit, but my arms are always present. Her wild eyes, forever in my heart, turn to meet my gaze and then back towards the prize. I let her try a few more steps, we’re still so close to the bottom, but she’s so alive and beaming.
She screams the whole three minute walk home, probably wanting me to know how she could have gone higher, if I would have let her.
I take deep breaths and sigh as my future plays out in my head, but mostly I’m thinking, I know and you will, baby girl, you sure will.