“Mama, get down,” he requests. I promise him as soon as we are inside Harvard Yard I will release him. I silently hope that the Yard won’t be crowded, but who am I kidding? I turn the stroller beneath the gates, letting it glide to a gentle halt as it meets the sign reminding bicyclists to walk their bikes.
“Bike,” he notices as I unbuckle him, holding his hand as he steps down from the stroller.
He is in motion even before his feet hit the ground, it seems.
“Running!” he squeals, “Running, Mama!”
His little body seems pulled in two directions: to be close to me who follows him with the stroller and forward into the unknown. I hover in the middle, it seems. I admire his joie de vivre, am overjoyed with his delight in watching squirrels uncover nuts they didn’t have to leave as long during this shortened winter, can only smile as he whirs past students and visitors, nearly bowling some over as he goes. Try not to hold my breath in anticipation of a fall that doesn’t come today, but has come and will come, and keep coming. Chastise myself for dreading the aftermath of falling down while also repeating what E has made his own common refrain.
“Fall down,” he will often exclaim, even if no one has fallen. It’s his thing.
“And what do you do when you fall down?” I always reply. I am a broken record.
“Back up,” he says, satisfied with his response.
He has a few stumbles, a whirling dervish that careens through the Yard, catching the eye of people who stop texting long enough to look up at him, or who step into the dormant grass to yield the path to him, but rights himself and continues along.
His arms, stretched wide open, attempting to pull all of this incredible day into him.
I stroll behind, quickening my pace at moments when I think he might get lost in a group of tourists, slowing it at others to let him trot ahead. My heart seems to double, then double again, then double one more time as I watch this boy make his way in the world.
E ranges close, then away again, returning to smile up at me before setting off again.
“How did you grow so big overnight? How did you get so smart and so bright? I’m so proud of you.”
(From “Me and You” by Frances England. Warning: this song gets me every.single.time)