Wednesday, August 29, 2007


One weekend when I was in early elementary school, I announced to my parents that I wanted to start riding my bike to school like my older brother. They said I was welcome to do so –- as soon as I learned to ride without training wheels.

No problem, I decided, and asked my dad to remove the extra wheels. I assured my parents I’d be ready to ride to school by Monday, and they nodded their encouragement while privately chuckling at my naivete.

I remember spending all day Sunday practicing in the front yard, riding in circles over and over, and trying again every time I lost my balance. At the end of the afternoon, I called my parents to the yard, declaring that I was ready and reveling in their surprise when I showed them my new ability. They had no choice but to let me ride to school the next morning.

That’s always been my approach to learning new skills –- isolating myself and working with single-minded determination until I had mastered whatever I wanted to learn, be it shuffling a deck of cards or driving a stick shift.

I bring this up only because I recently noticed that it’s one way in which my daughter seems to be just like me.

I’ve already mentioned the sudden, overwhelming desire to roll over, which she accomplished and mastered seemingly overnight. Now she’s decided it’s time to crawl, sit up and stand. I’ve sat her down and tried to tell her that there’s no need to rush these things, that she’s only three months old and her little legs can only take so much.

She doesn’t listen.

If I lie her down on her back, she rolls over and tries to crawl. (She doesn’t realize yet that she needs to use her arms, so mostly she just kicks her legs and slides around the floor on her face.) The whining starts almost immediately when she can’t get very far, but she tries again anyway. And again, and again, and again.

Or she’ll wait for me to take her hands so she can pull into a sitting position, and then a standing position. And once she’s standing, she’ll stay that way until her legs give out, if you let her.

If I sit her down and lean her back against something, she struggles and strains to get into an upright sitting position. She can’t do it yet, but she tries and tries and tries, focusing harder on her goal than I do on half my projects for work.

I wonder how much she practices when she’s alone, and whether one of these days I’ll go to get her from her crib and find her crawling laps around the edges with a big, toothless grin on her face.

You’ll get there, baby. Just keep trying.


Kate said...

"focusing harder on her goal than I do on half my projects for work."

I see. Um hmm. Your energy must be in the novel in your future then, right? Working on it all alone by yourself, only unleashing it on us when it's finished.

I see how it is, Ms. Rowling.

pam said...

Seeing as how there is never any isolation at your job (or quiet or privacy), it makes sense you might have a hard time there.

Heather McDonnell said...

I wish I could be the next Rowling. But no, most of my energy is usually focused on how I'd really like to take a nap.