I am trying to keep with our little family routines as much as possible while Nik is away and RT is with his grandparents. Today, that meant an early morning hike with a stop at Costco on the way home. If the weather hadn't been so beautiful I might have thought of skipping the whole thing -- neither Sam or I have the constitution for cold weather hikes unless Nik is along to help us appreciate how "envigorating" it can be.
A year ago I never would have contemplated doing this routine solo. I vividly remember taking one short hike alone with the kids, more of a walk in the woods really, and being so stressed out about managing both kids -- one of whom I HAD to carry and the other of whom I MIGHT have to carry. Just depending. And then there was the fear of what things might look like if Oliver just decided to take off. How could I chase after him with a babe in arms? But with Sam now so independent and Oliver finally starting to understand the Mommy Voice -- you know, that certain way a mother shouts "Stop" when there is danger present -- I am now positively bursting with confidence compared to a year ago.
So off we went.
And oh how I wish you could have seen us! Oliver was positively amazing. He would start to head down one trail and I would stop and say: "I think I'll go this way." To this Oliver would respond by turning around in his tracks and joining us in the other direction. Later, I walked between Sam and Oliver and sung a simple made-up song about how we were all walking together. Up the hill. Down the hill. We're walking, walking, walking. Then, mid-sentence I would purposefully stop walking and singing. And wouldn't you know it but EVERY TIME I did that Oliver would stop, then turn around and look at me as if to say: "Hey, why did you stop?" I was positively glowing with pride. Even though he was a few steps ahead of me at times and the casual observer might not have been aware of how connected we were on this beautiful spring-like day, Oliver was showing me just how very much he was paying attention to me. And as the mother of a child for whom communication is not a strong point, let's just say that the look said it all.
Compare this to the first RDI video that we submitted 8 weeks ago that shows Oliver hand in hand with Nik as they walked around a track. They walked together for some distance before Nik suddenly came to an unexpected halt. Oliver danced around, pulling himself out of Nik's orbit until both of their arms were fully extended with the knot of their fingers in between. He looked at his feet, at the sky, at the grass, at everything but Nik. And Nik just waited, patiently at first but as the seconds dragged on he stood there anxiously clearing his throat. Finally, after quite some time, Oliver stole a glance in Nik's direction and then they were off again.
When our consultant told us that we were ready for Stage Two, I have to admit that I was thrilled but also secretly doubtful. Had we really mastered what we needed to in Stage One? But this evening after the children fell asleep I reviewed the videos from that first week and was stunned by the difference these last 8 weeks have made.
Actually, so far, they have made ALL the difference.
So here we come Stage Two!!