When people feel sorry for me and Atticus over the fact that he can’t walk, I always scoff at them and make inappropriate jokes about how awesome it is to have a kid that stays where we put him. It’s my dark humor helping me cope once again, while recognizing that it is actually kind of great to not have to babyproof and worry about messes and deal with injuries caused by playing too hard.
Those days are officially behind us.
We’ve now had an ER trip for one head bonk and had to cope with another one when he fell off the stair he was playing on, the other day I walked in to find him throwing all his bath toys in the toilet, and now he has gotten into Bear’s baking cabinet, found the giant bottle of green food coloring, and decorated his whole self with it.
And of course, OF COURSE, this sudden burst of precociousness would occur while I am parenting him on my own. Of course he would save up all his mischievousness and mobility for the moment it would drive me the absolute craziest. He’s a wily little sucker.
So on the food coloring day, I did my best not to eat my young, remembered my sense of humor and stopped to take pictures, and then calmly tossed him in the bathtub. The second his toes touched the water a cloud of green rose around him, so I took out his favorite foam letter bath toys so they wouldn’t get stained, throwing them in the toy basket we keep next to the tub. I scrubbed his face and I scrubbed his hands and left him to soak while I saw to the kitchen and my newly verdant tile.
By the time I came back to check on him, my little monster was doing a handstand with his naked booty in the air, balancing his legs on the tub while holding his whole body up with one arm while he used the other to reach for his bath toys and bring them into the water one by one.
Part of me wanted to shake him, and part of me wanted to collapse in awe at the physical feat he was performing.
That’s what I try to remind myself whenever his precociousness makes me bonkers. When he talks back in ways so clever I can’t help but laugh, when he finds brilliant little ways to problem solve around my discipline, when he manages to use his body in ways his therapists and I would never have believed possible to get into something he knows he shouldn’t, I swallow that impulse to scream, I take a deep breath, and I tell myself that this is what is going to get him the life he wants. He might have cerebral palsy, but it doesn’t have him.
If he can make it to adulthood without me killing him, he’s going to be able to do whatever he wants.