In the Karlin household, today is independence day. In fact, every day is independence day.
Jacob is at that age where he hates -- and I mean HATES -- when we force his dependency on us.
If we try to help him when he thinks he doesn't need it, he sets off a barrage of fireworks in the form of cries, screams and tears.
I thought about this the other morning after he refused to hold my hand down the concrete steps in front of our house. Jacob never learned to go down steps like the typical infant/toddler, scooting butt first, so it always makes us a little nervous to watch him go down a flight of stairs. His depth perception, however, has kicked in nicely. He's learned to hold onto a railing or another object as he makes his descent. Before yesterday, he would grip one of our fingers with one hand and grab the railing with the other and, not really paying much attention, sort of just fall from step to step while we held onto him.
But yesterday was a new day, and he was determined to seize the opportunity. He wanted to step down by himself. So I let him go. I kept my hand in front of him, of course, but I didn't touch him.
He gripped the railing with both hands and twisted his body forward. You could see the hesitation in his face as he slowly inched his right foot closer to the edge. Carpe Diem! I'm sure is what he was thinking. Within a matter of seconds, he firmly planted it on the step below. Just as quickly hesitation turned to elation. Then came the second foot. Confidently, he wrapped his left leg behind him so he could keep both hand tied to the railing. Gravity assisted him the rest of the way, pulling his 20-pound body down six inches in the blink of an eye.
Balance sustained. No trip to the emergency room. Next three steps no problem.
But there was still one more. This time there was no railing, only a wall. Jacob was not deterred. He pressed his palms against the brick facade, slightly leaned his shoulder into it and took the plunge.
He nailed the landing. Perfect score from the judges. Jacob rewarded himself with a congratulatory round of applause.
We do feel sorry for him at times when he wants to do something on his own, but he just can't because he's either too small or he just doesn't understand what to do and becomes frustrated.
For example, he almost always cries and squirms when I put him in his carseat. Partly it's because he doesn't like straps and buckles confining his mobility, but the bigger reason is he wants to do it himself. The problem is he's not tall enough to reach his leg onto the step bar on the side the truck. So I have to pick him up, as he's squirming, and stand him up on the seat. Then he tries to get into his carseat, but again, he can't pull himself up. So what does he do? You guessed it. He emits a piercing scream, upon which the decibel level quickly doubles within the cab's enclosed space. When I try to distract him with some toys or his sippy cup, he responds by throwing them on the ground.
Here are a few other things he would prefer to do on his own (unfortunately changing his his diapers is not one of them):
-- He wants to feed himself. He'll close his mouth and shake his head if we put a piece of his food up to his face. So we put the food on the end of a fork and lay it on his tray. He puts it in his mouth, pulls the food off and claps for himself. He's OK with us taking the fork to add another piece of food, but every now and then he tries to spear the food himself.
-- He doesn't like sitting in a grocery cart. He'd rather help us push it or walk beside us. He loves walking, which is fine with us as long as he doesn't wander off or pull everything off the shelves.
-- He doesn't like holding our hands in public. He screams and snatches his hand away when we try to grab it. We try to explain to him that he could get hurt if he doesn't hold our hands, but he doesn't understand. If it's a busy area, then we pick him up and he has to suck it up. When he realizes a particular place is crowded, he'll hold our hand to stay close to us.
-- Bathing himself. He likes to pour the bucket of water over his head while in the bathtub and then pull the plug to watch the water disappear down the drain.
All of these are just more signs of our little baby Jacob growing up.
Nate and Erin met at the University of Kansas during their freshman year. They graduated from KU in 2006 and moved to Clarksville, TN. Dolly joined their family in January of 2007. This is when their family started. They were married in Dallas on September 2, 2007. Nate works at the Williamson Medical Center and Erin is a Kindergarten Teacher at Blackman Elementary. Jacob Lee joined our family on April 10, 2009. And they bought their first house in La Vergne in April '10. Our life is complete and wonderful