It's amazing what a little incentive can do...
I have book called "365 smart after-school activities" that we try to use a couple of times a week for ideas and activities. Today, the activity we selected was aerobic dancing. The note on the page reads: Aerobic activity significantly increases the oxygen supply to the heart, lungs, and all other body parts.
As it turns out, increased oxygen supply is what we needed.
Well, that, and the promise of a puppy.
We put on some music. The kids danced while I cooked dinner. I joined in occasionally. We skipped the slow songs. Isaiah and Esther-Faith were grooving. He was doing what he could to keep her off his toes. She was doing what she could to stomp on his toes. At one point he had to run out of the room, and he left her standing in the middle of the room.
We do this--leave her standing. Especially when there is music on. She loves to dance. She can stand for a while in one spot if we help her set her feet. He was gone a little longer than she liked. She kept dancing. I knelt by the piano. Isaiah came back into the room and stood by me as she took tiny, tiny steps. An inch or less at a time. Kind of dragging her left foot. She covered in a couple of minutes what I do in one step. But those tiny steps. Those inches. Those victories.
Tiny, tiny steps in my direction. Until she reached me and fell into my arms.
I sobbed. Happy, wrenching sobs. Isaiah's eyes weren't dry. He ran upstairs to get Tim as she wiped the tears from my face and asked, "Why are you crying, Mama?" She brushed my hair back from my face and caught my tears on her small finger. "Because I'm so happy, Esther-Faith!" I answered. "Do you know what you just did?!"
"I walked without my crunches, Mama," she answered nonchalantly.
Tim and Isaiah came back into the room. I reset her where she started. She stood there, wiggled her booty a little, and took tiny, tiny steps again. Right to me.
I have dreamed of this day for years.
After many tears. Lots of jubilation. Burning the barley risotto. Forgetting napkins on the table. And a whole lot more celebration. We sat down to dinner.
After dinner, she did it again. She walked two more times without her crunches. This time, we had the camera out. And each time she reached me, she reminded Tim that he promised her a puppy once she walked without her crunches.
And he did. About three weeks ago when she walked from the kitchen to the table a few times with one crutch to help Isaiah set the table, Tim told her that if she learned to walk without crutches, he would get her a puppy.
She loves puppies.
We texted Kate. And Mimi. And about half-a-dozen others. Then, she called Kate--completely glossing over the walking part going straight to the puppy part. Later she talked to Mimi. Same story. A little bit about walking. A whole lot about a white puppy with black spots named "Pony."
After talking to Kate, Tim slipped out and picked up an ice cream cake that said, "Baby Steps! Congratulations, Esther-Faith!" We had ice cream cake.
And despite our best efforts to sleep, Tim and I sit here in awe of our little girl. What she did today was not supposed to happen. But we can't shake the feeling that she isn't done. That she will keep doing all the things that she wasn't supposed to do.
A little bit at a time.
Tiny, tiny steps.
Sometimes, inches at a time.
And sometimes, it doesn't hurt to have an incentive.