She walks with her entire body, propelling herself with everything she has got. I watch my seventeen month old as she strides purposefully to the pantry door. She raises herself on her toes and hangs on the handle pushing it down and pulls the door toward her. I am astonished, proud and amazed at what this little child has grown into. She walks inside the pantry, drags a bag of beans and moves near the pull out trash. Laying the bag on the floor, she stands on it and pulls open the trash and peers inside. “No!” I shout, half with amusement and half with disgust as she leans inside her lips touching the trash bag. She looks up, an impish smile lighting her face and steps back. I pull her off the floor and wipe her mouth before kissing her senseless.
Between the two of us, we spent an entire day exploring our home. The dusty corners, the smudged glass table, the runner on the stairs, behind the sofas, under the recliner. I follow her along on her adventures as we pick stuff off the floor, taste it and learn how to put it away. We lie on the floor and practice blowing raspberries. She sprays spit all over me as she strains to emulate what I do. Her hair is tousled, her tee-shirt stained with orange juice and the remnants of what seems like chutney. I flick the dried on particulate matter and push the hair from her forehead. She responds by reaching out for me ear and the lock of hair behind. She lies content on my lap looking at me with eyes that look wise beyond her age.
“Amma” she calls out when wakes from her nap. Her cries gain in intensity in the time it takes for me to climb the stairs to her room. Opening the door, I see her sitting, her blanket pooled by her chunky legs. Her arms reach out for me as I gather her up and out. We stop to change her diaper and she plays with her pants as I clean and replace her soggy one for a crisp new one. Perched on my hip she watches as I throw it into her pail. I sit her down on the counter while I wash my hands and she reaches for the water, a look of glee that has me indulging her. We splash in the water for a bit before we head downstairs.
I am on the phone, exchanging notes with my amma, hands flying over the keyboard. She stands by the chair, her fists beating a rhythm on my thigh. I stop to look and she rewards me with a smile and outstretched arms indicating she wants to sit on my lap. I ignore her, the smile morphs into cries for attention and I close the laptop and put down the phone and turn to her. We are on the carpet playing with her zoo toy. I place the animals on the holder and a song breaks out. She body moves with the music and she looks to me for approval. I wiggle my body in tune with hers. I get up and turn the radio on. We dance, she and I, our bodies close together. I can feel her relax and soon we are a blur under the fan.
I sit on the rocking chair, her torso on mine, her head nestled in my neck. Her breathing evens and her body slumps. I lay her down on the crib and linger just for a moment. I admire those thick lashes. I admire her smooth skin. I admire the spunky child who brings out the best in me. I feel my eyes mist and walk away.