My son Ezra is just over 10 months old and it seems like he has a singular focus on acquisition of just one skill right now.
And he is soooo close. And he knows it. The kid sees an open space in front of him and his eyes scan the for the potential hand holds between his here and his there measuring the balance between his ever increasing yet uncertain ability and his desire to walk. He vacillates between trepidation and confidence. It’s a lot for the brain of a 10 month old. This most often manifests itself along the edge of the couch and coffee table. When he has those two safety nets he will scoot side to side, hand over hand, foot over foot. It’s not walking exactly but it’s close. And, boy, does love it. He giggles and hustles from one end of his secure purchase to the other.
But that hustle of side to side, hand over hand, foot over foot is also a lot for his 10 month old brain and body to coordinate. Often his confidence betrays him and his journey from here to there becomes less of journey and more of decent. I’ve never seen so much momentum unleashed in such a tiny package. His crisscrossing gets tangled up and all of a sudden it’s his hip and hand and head finding the way to floor.
You know what happens next. All of the that energy that was directed at this hustle redirects and vents straight out of the tear ducts.
Oh, Ezra, you’ve come such a long way from the end of the coffee table only to fall so far to the rug when you were so near your goal of the other end of the coffee table.
This is when my best postive daddy voice I say “You’re O.K.”
I’m going to backtrack to another chapter in Sam Stecher’s formative history. Back in the day when a misfortune would befall me, be it a skinned knee or sometimes something significantly worse, my father was fond of saying “Good thing you’re tough.” It took awhile but eventually I began hearing a lot more from that statement. I heard that I was tough, capable, durable, resilient, flexible, and so much more. It is with no small frequency that when the going gets tough I remind myself that I am the tough that gets going. I do this because it had been taught and reinforced.
I want my son to have the same kind of tools when the going gets tough.
So at 10 months old, again in my most positive dad voice, I tell him “You’re O.K.” I’m pretty sure “You’re O.K.” doesn’t directly translate for Ezra. But what I am what I’m saying and how I’m saying it, it says “You’re O.K. You got this kid. You’re tough Ezra. I’m here to make sure you’re O.K. so you can keep falling and keep getting up. I love you and I know, fall or walk, you got this and you’re O.K.”
I tell him “You’re O.K.” and looks up at me and I can see those tears redirect to a smile and though he doesn’t exactly have full language mastery yet his face says “I’m O.K.? Dad’s right. I am O.K.”
That’s when he starts working his way back to the other end of the coffee table.