These lengthening days it’s light outside at 6:15pm in Ann Arbor. Tonight as Caroline, Jay, and I sat down to bowls of chana masala, Wally slapped-slapped his way across the floor to the large window that overlooks our driveway. He gripped the windowsill and pulled himself up to standing. As we ate, he pressed his firm little nose to the glass and stared out into the Michigan gloaming.
Caroline likes to say that babies start to get interesting around nine-months-old. All along we’ve had our line on Wally—that he’s happy, content, a fun-loving delight—but for most of his life his limited physical abilities have left him with few ways to express that personality. Now that he can crawl, pull-up, climb stairs and screech, he’s starting to put some meat on the bones of his sweet reputation.
Here are some things that Wally loves:
- Staring at screens (iPads, televisions) and out windows.
- When anyone laughs or smiles at him.
- Physical humor, like the other day in the bath when Jay made an exaggerated show of splashing water in his own face.
- All kinds of toys, particularly whichever one Jay is playing with, and especially our socket wrench set.
- To topple the recycling bag and to stare at his reflection in the burnished metal trash can in the kitchen.
- To eat bananas and carrots, and to hold his own rubber spoon.
- To be where the action is.
- His brother
I think you could watch 100 infants turn into 100 toddlers turn into 100 little boys and girls and the whole process would still seem no less improbable when you were finished. You stare at a newborn lump and think: There’s no way this lump will ever crawl. And then he does. You stare at a creeping infant and think: There’s no way he will ever walk. Then he runs.
Caroline and I sometimes try to imagine what Wally’s voice will sound like when he finally starts to talk and the thing of it is: We can’t. Because in order to talk he’ll have to know what he wants to say. And since no two people ever talk or think in quite the same way, it’s impossible to imagine what will eventually come out of his mouth.
It is, however, possible to imagine him standing at the window in our living room.
On Saturday afternoon Jay and I were kicking a soccer ball in the driveway when we heard a sound from the direction of the house. We turned to look and there was Wally, banging on the glass. Wally broke into a grin as Jay and I approached the window. Jay thumped on the glass, right at Wally’s face. Wally thumped right back.
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