Yesterday I stuck a brightly colored maraca in between the slats of Violet's crib for shits and giggles. Come on, I coaxed her from across the room as she leaned against the glider chair. Come and get that maraca!, I said. I was killing time, man. Whittling daylight.
So I didn't expect her to come pop-locking across the room in full strut. I didn't think she'd pick right then to hit me in the eye with a milestone. But she did. I moved the maraca to another spot and pointed it out to her and she looked up at me with the eye of the tiger and was off. Across the room, her little legs pumping hard and fast, she was a wild turkey chooglin' across somebody's yard. She made it over there, too. My jaw was on my boots. It had begun.
Its weird to watch your kid walk around for the very first time in her life. What do you do? I pep talked her, but not too much. I didn't want to distract her with praise. And also I was pretty shocked, to be honest. I couldn't really find many words to say. Violet walking across soft carpet without any help from me. I am so proud. But also, to be honest, it sucks a little too. She needed me to get around in this world. Now she needs me a lot less.
Still, I managed to lay in bed last night replaying it all over and over in my head. That sweet little girl, any sweet little kid, taking their first steps...teetering on their tiny feet as the whipping winds of balance try and tear them down...rolling like a Weeble...moving with teeny fast steps towards daddy's open arms...breaking into big smiles, the two of us.
I saw the first real steps. A plump squat set of legs that will someday carry her down the halls of high school, through the streets of Paris, to Mars. Who knows. No one knows. But the possibilities set my banged-up soul on fire.
On her feet, moving through her room from side to side, 14 Violet Steps this way/17 Violet Steps that way (yeah: I counted), my daughter chases the wooden maraca I tease her with. I stick it in the slats again and then once she gets there I shake it, I let her shake it, then I take it over (4 Serge Steps) to the chair and lay it there, its colors dangling off the edge...calling out her name.
She motors that direction, sometimes stopping for a look-around, sometimes just walking or running the whole room without pause. When she reaches the chair she picks up the maraca in her one hand. In her other hand she has the clabber that came in the same set of kids instruments. She holds them both upon her safe arrival over there and from behind her I rest my eyes upon her tiny figure from behind; her slight arms raise as far above her head as she can move them, the trophies in her hands nothing less than that belt locked into Rocky Balboa's fists as the music begins and the goosebumps cover your skin and your guts and your heart.
At that exact second, I want to fling the window open and reach out and just tear out a fat wad of cloud from the sky and wrap the kid in it. Wrap the little champ in a robe made out of heaven because I love her so fucking much and I don't know what else to do. Wrap her up like Mickey wrapped Rockey after every single round. No matter what happened. No matter how swollen his face was, no matter how battered and broken his body was, there was always Mickey waiting there in the corner for him. Mickey waiting to wipe away the snot and the bloody drool; Mickey slapping Rock's cheeks; Mickey waiting to simply tell his champ that he can do it: he can kick this guy's ass.
I waited all of my life to be that guy, that dude just standing there waiting in the dim corner, with clean towels and love.