I was never a big fan of Vangelis’ “Titles” from Chariots of Fire, but I am very tempted to put it in my iPod just so I can listen to it as J walks up from the bus…yes, there’s a triumphant, exhilarating, slow-motion quality to this short jaunt up the driveway that would fit perfectly with that running scene on the beach. Of course, I’d only get to the part where the pulse is repeating and the music hasn’t quite started, but…
The point is J happily walks from bus to me without much ado. The first day (so the bus driver tells me) he was not particularly keen on the idea, and hence the running towards me with a panicked look, but now there’s no cajoling involved and they are very proud of how well he’s progressing towards our goal. Basically, as long as they can see my head, he can be released to walk by himself. I might have to build an observation deck to achieve my 300-yard goal, but we’ll think about that when we get closer to that time.
J still has moments of clinginess that take my breath away. I don’t just mean metaphorically; J can lean on me heavily enough to make it difficult to breathe, and that’s not even counting the strain it puts on my shoulders. When Dada is with us, he happily takes J and cajoles him into being a little less dependent on me, but J can take this as a sign of Dada wanting me for himself. It is much better if we both insist on independence, and I am doing my bit (although cautiously) to encourage him. Walking towards me from the bus is step one. A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, right???
On Saturday we took J shopping and he was very happy to be out and about. While at the store, J requested PIZZA, and I told him he had to walk to the freezers where they keep them and get it himself. I stood there, watching him look over his shoulder as he walked away from me and towards the desired snack, and crossed my fingers that he would know in his bones I wasn’t going to move from where I was. He stopped midway to where the pizzas are kept, and I made a gesture with my hands, encouraging him to go farther down the aisle. By then he was smiling broadly, looking at Dada standing there with his arm around my shoulder as we both smiled back at him. He rushed back to us, not because he was anxious, but because he was excited to have grabbed his own pizza.
The weather is much improved. We still have breezy conditions that will dry your skin and chap your lips while bringing in an unexpected chill, but that’s fine. From here on end, temperatures will continue to rise until they reach “summer” and then, when the time for it comes, will drop until we reach “fall” and keep falling through to “winter.” It’s the way it works.
The weather, of course, screams “go outside and play!!!” In the spirit of the weather’s request, yesterday we went for a walk in a park outside of the city limits. This park is known for a rather steep trail that leads to an observation deck from which you can see the river and a beautiful panoramic view of the hills around us. When I say the climb is steep, well, I’m not kidding. The grassy area levels out and I kiddingly told J “do you want to do your Julie Andrews up here?” He looked at me as if it could happen, but then just kept walking. I wouldn’t put it past J to start twirling around and humming “the hills are alive with the sound of music…” To be honest, I was gasping my way through “Climb Every Mountain” as we plodded up the hill…
I didn’t expect J to get too far up the hill, but he did his best…we went up about 2/3 of the way before he decided he was not ready to go all the way up. I told Dada to keep going and then, rather than letting J drag us both to the car to wait, I walked leisurely down the hill, stopping to take pictures, to ooh and aah over a goat that lives there, and to pick up dandelions for J. I simply wanted to make sure that J didn’t think he was the only one with an agenda, and I think I succeeded. Not only did Dada take pictures from the observation deck, but by the time he caught up to us, we were only 1/3 of the way down the slope.
While on Saturday J was excited about the prospect of going to the Frozen Foods section in search of pizza all by himself, his first visit to the local Asian market was a little more cautious. The sight of the fresh fish resting, dead-eyed, on ice by the door was something he wasn’t prepared for, so we steered a slightly shaken J towards the aisles and aisles of noodles of every kind imaginable. I’ve often wondered if J’s version of Paradise includes cheese, but I have to say it’s probably also heavily populated by noodles. For a kid who loves pasta, going to the Asian market and witnessing row after row of thick, thin, square,rice, flour, sweet potato, you name it noodles was like taking him to the candy store. He didn’t know where to look first, and he completely forgot about the dead fish by the door as soon as his mind was filled with noodles.
Of course, the fish were there when we were leaving, but J -glancing quickly and then looking away- averted his eyes and concentrated on his treasure trove of rice sticks, udon and lo mein noodles. Back in the car, he put his hand on my shoulder and said FISH. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw J’s best imitation of a dead fish, and I laughed. He smiled and said NOODLES. As we drove home, he rolled down his window and smiled at the breeze while humming…
It wasn’t the “Titles” from Chariots of Fire, but…it told me we’ve come a long way indeed.