Thursday, May 06, 2004

The last stroller walk?

A while back, after I had been diagnosed with ALS, I was up in my kids' room, rocking the baby girl to sleep. It occurred to me that this might be the last time I did rock her to sleep, in the sense of giving night-night to her as a baby. That made me sad. Not because I was fearful of dying soon, but because she was soon not going to be a baby anymore. As far as I can recall, that was the last time. Once in Hawaii I rocked her to sleep for her afternoon nap. But my wife has done all the bedtime and night work with our girl, with very few exceptions. So, yes, I love rocking my babies to sleep, and yes, I'm sad to say I might not get to anymore.

Some of the ALS literature I read said something about how people with ALS often set goals for what is important to them, like continuing to be able to pick up their kids. This is a strange one because, just like rocking them to sleep, they grow so fast that sooner or later you can't pick them up.

And so today came the sadness of the possibly Last Stroller Walk. Our toddler girl is such a good walker that when we take her out, she walks alongside us. It's been this way for weeks and weeks. But today a friend dropped off her old stroller to replace the one we had, whose wheel fell off irreplacibly. Our daughter was enamored of the new stroller and implored us in her quiet way to take her for a stroller walk. I thought that she would let me push her three yards and then demand to get out and walk. However, whenever I asked her if we should go back home, she shook her head. When I asked her if I should keep pushing her, she would make her sound for "yes," which is "huh!" So I pushed her around two blocks, until my legs got tired, and I wondered in the ALS would undercut me to the point that this would be the Last Stroller Walk. But then I realized what would really most likely make it the last stroller walk: My big girl likes to walk on her own.

She's a miracle. My son is too. He and I went downtown and had lunch today. When we hang out together in an unstructured way (no deadlines) he becomes what I think of as the Real Boy -- calm, fair, fun seeker, good listener. It's only at home doing the same old, boring daily obligatories that he gets so cranky. Last night was just such a crank-storm. But suddenly I said: "Let's make a hat out of that shoe box!" The idea appealed to him and he was a gentleman the whole time.

But I still miss rocking him to sleep when he was a baby.
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