He walks quickly across the room, swaggering as he goes, arms swinging in readiness. His single-minded focus on his target is clear to everyone he passes, sparing them not a glance or a sigh. His strides cease as quickly as they began, as he bends down to pick something off the floor. After a quick examination, he…
puts it in his mouth.
Because this brute, this swagger, this confident and capable being, is only one year old. Eighteen months today, actually, and feeling every hour of it. He walks, he grunts, he mutters under his breath as he tries to figure out a new toy, remote, or tool. He carefully picks up the smallest toy parts, he bends down to his bowl to select the perfect raisin, he puts it in his mouth and grunts in pleasure at the accomplishment.
He watches his big brother, and struts behind him, full of confidence and faith that if he just waddles fast enough he’ll be able to keep up.
He follows the older girls around, and delights in their delight as they pause to tempt him with stuffed animals and toys.
He throws balls to the boys, and squeals with happiness when he is tackled during “football” at the park. He plays chase well, and throws himself on top of his prey if he gets close enough to catch.
He breaks out in a crooked grin, dimples deep, whenever anybody laughs, and he will keep laughing as long as you do.
He climbs up the playset as if he were born to it. The 6 foot ramp he conquered at 13 months; the slide at 16; now he goes down both slide and ramp as if second nature, without looking to see if Mommy is at the bottom waiting. He clambers up the rock wall in bare feet, needing only a little help to reach the top.
He throws the swing around, not wanting to be pushed, but to grow big enough quick enough to do it himself.
He did the same with learning to walk, waiting until he was able to do it all by himself before he ventured out. From the first day he walked, he walked alone, and never once has walked holding Mommy or Daddy’s hand more than a minute. He doesn’t fall often, and if he does, he doesn’t cry. He just picks himself up and hurls himself along the path once again.
He loves his Little People, his brother’s matchbox cars, trucks and trains of all shapes and sizes, and he wields a beach ball as if it were a javelin.
He throws and catches with remarkable accuracy, and he has begun to swing the bat.
He snuggles when he’s tired, climbing into a lap for comfort, asking for a book with grunts and pointing, until he is mollified with Big Red Barn or Goodnight Moon. He tolerates other books, but only those put him all the way to sleep.
He is a mystery, this little man, who is so confident by day and so snuggly by night. But he is my mystery, and I love him.
From the very first minutes of his life, when he opened his eyes and calmly looked around the delivery room, as if to take stock of this new world, he has always spoken up and acted to get what he needs. He is now 18 months old, and he is full of confidence and spirit, ready for anything.
He is my Little Bear.