If you were to watch me watch my daughter, I’m quite certain you’d assume I was stoned. She does something… anything…and I just stare like it’s the season finale of my favorite show. Then I explode with laughter, or cry with awe. And I say stuff like, “That’s so crazy, did you just see her work that fork? Oh my god that was amazing. Forks are amazing. It’s just insane that we have forks. Someone invented forks. Someone raised a child who grew up and invented a fork and then all the rest of us all learned to use those forks. How did we learn to use forks… that’s such a crazy accomplishment…come to think of it how did we learn to walk or turn on a light switch? I need to take a nap or eat a bag of chips…this is all just too much…”

The other day I watched Sage try to jump off a small boulder. All the other kids could do it and I knew she wanted to join in their fun. After several anxious laps around its perimeter she climbed atop and then gazed down like she was about to throw herself out of an airplane. She squinted her eyes, took a deep breath and then made this little hiccup motion that sent her shoulders into her ears but left her feet unmoved. When she opened her eyes she gave this incredulous look, “What? I’m still on this rock? How is that possible?”  As the other kids bounced off the cratered surface like it was a trampoline, my daughter remained fixed in her place, pumping her shoulders and wondering what exactly was causing the malfunction. She checked her shoes and touched the rock- why was it not working for her?  Then out of nowhere something seemed to click. She began to swing her arms like she was cross-country skiing. Next she started galloping her feet until at last she got enough momentum to propel herself forward.

When she landed she looked up at me like, “Holy shit did you see that?” And I nodded, mouth agape like I’d just watched a man land on the moon. And that is really how I felt.

It was riveting. I told everyone, “Hi, I know we haven’t talked in three years but my daughter just jumped off a rock and I wanted you to know how spectacular it was…hello? Are you still there…?”

Despite teaching for at least ten years, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could have prepared me for watching my daughter learn. It’s so humbling it makes me feel like I’m stripped down naked and standing atop Mt. Everest. Whether she’s figuring out how to unscrew a bottle cap, or scribble the letter S, or scream louder than the big girls on the playground it is all one amazing  process.

And perhaps I’m so acutely aware of her learning and the massive journey she takes as she discovers her world for the very first time because I’m in the process of figuring out my new world too.

How do I wash the dishes while cradling a kid?  How do meet my work deadlines while wearing a puppet on one hand? How do I get poop out of the pillowcase and untangle her hair and teach her how to be kind even when I’m feeling irritable and tired? How do encourage her to sing at the top of her lungs, and whisper at the library, and dance where ever she likes, and stay safe around cars, and swim, and sit through dinner, and listen till a story comes to an end, and watch carefully, and be bold, and pensive, and expressive, and open.

It’s all trial and error. Some days I feel like I’m standing on a rock, just stuck flailing my arms and wondering why I’m not moving forward. Then some days, it clicks and…

I jump.

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