When Henry sees the top of a staircase, he accelerates over the edge like he enjoys that sudden-drop whoosh in his stomach. I’ve given myself more than one carpet burn leaping to grab his ankle as he disappears. We’re fitting stairgates tonight, and my grazed knees are grateful, but part of me likes to watch him do it. No fear. No testing the water. Just delight in his own movement: a giddy, headlong rush into somewhere he hasn’t yet been.
It’s the same with everything he does. He climbs high because he doesn’t understand falling. There’s grace in every crouch and reach. When he finds something new he can stand on, he cackles.
And me, with my backache and body image, my duck feet and flat chest and spare tire, I have years of weighing scales and mirrors behind me. Years of I’m-not-good-at-sport and don’t-photograph-me-from-the-side and four-pounds-too-heavy. Too frightened of the ungainly bump to earth to climb anything new. I am encramped with bodily limitations I’ve heard and made my own. I have an ear infection on the way and I’m filled with holy terror imagining my 5k run on Saturday. This is what being an adult means, but I do not want it for him.
I could learn from him, I think. Stretch and crouch. My body can do anything. Mattresses are for jumping on. Oh look, a drop into nowhere. Let’s see what’s over the edge.
For a gorgeous, gorgeous poem on babies and body image, see here.