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A Season To Turn, Turn, Turn

We’re going through a point of astonishing physical development with Maddie, in more ways than one.

First off, her body has sprung up, seemingly overnight. Our last doctor’s visit showed that while her weight stayed in the 15th percentile, her height had jumped to the 75th! She’s walking around in either bell-bottom pants that fit around the waist, or pants that are long enough but show half her diaper as they swim around her middle. Suddenly she’s reaching the tops of counters with her hands, easily pulling off any dish or food in her way.

But even more than her physical development, her motor skills are suddenly in fast-forward. 

Every day seems to bring a new self-discovery for baby girl, and she’s amazed at all the tricks she’s bringing under her control. While we were on vacation, Maddie accidentally discovered walking backwards, and she was so startled she almost fell down. She’d walk in and out of the pool without ever turning around, fascinated with her ability to move in a direction she wasn’t looking. Now she likes to show it off by getting her ride-on toy out from its parking spot, deliberately and slowly pulling it back with her.

As Maddie got taller, she began to encounter a new problem at the playground – headspace. Where she’d once been able to run freely underneath all the bridges and staircases, she suddenly noticed a couple sections that were too low for her to pass unhurt. My poor kiddo couldn’t figure out what to do for a couple days: she’d approach it from one direction, not get in, approach it from another, and have the same luck. She methodically worked her way around the structure but couldn’t figure it out. Her friend Naomi tried showing her how to duck, weaving in and out, but Maddie still didn’t get it. One day it finally clicked, and Maddie’s now been known to run over to that area simply to show that she gets the whole “ducking” thing.

More amazing than the ducking, though, is her latest learned skill on the playground – one I hadn’t thought she’d learn for several years yet.

While we were on retreat recently, we spent time on the playground hanging out with other kids. Since there were no baby swings available, Maddie sat in a “big girl” swing, with Brian and me very carefully pushing her only a little. Another girl on the playground, maybe 8 years old, expressed her frustration at not being able to swing by herself. I spent some time talking her through the leg pumping and leaning combo you need to get good swing height, and thought no more about it.

Back from our weekend away, Maddie recognized the “big girl” swing on our playground and asked to sit in it. Imagine my astonishment when I put her down, walked behind her to push her, and found I didn’t need to – she was leaning and pumping, moving herself. My friend Ingrid and I simply stared. And it’s not like she can keep it up – she pumps for a few swings and gets tired. But still!

I think my current favorite Maddie skill, though, is one that came with no tutoring whatsoever. Maddie and I have always enjoyed dance time together, but she recently added a big move to her repertoire- the turn.

My kiddo will stand in the middle of the room and, as if she’s got an imaginary book balanced on her head, hold her arms out slightly and take several steps to turn herself in a circle, smiling the whole time. The revolution finished, she’ll look at you expectantly and beam as you applaud obediently. She’s gotten caught up in it a few times and made too many turns, falling over at the end, but in general she’ll make a revolution and move on.

I love that she does it on command, of course – how cute is that? But more than that, I love that she is enjoying this mastery she’s getting over her own body. As I see her grow confident in her steps I know it’s only a matter of time before she takes flight, spreading her wings and standing on her own.

But until then, I’ll enjoy my little princess, twirling happily in front of me. 


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