AJ is 20 months old, nearer to two years old than one year old. I feel that if there has been a theme to this month, it's that we can't entirely protect her from the dangerous and unpleasant parts of the world. Hence the Hamlet quote: the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune", the "sea of troubles" which we all must face.
First of all, about 2 days after she started walking extensively without support, AJ fell on my mom's steps. I was not even an arm's length away. I was not distracted. But I didn't quite catch her and while she didn't fall far at all, she fell very awkwardly on one leg. A few hours later we found out she had a fracture on her tibia. So, a few short days after she got excited about "walkie, walkie!" poor AJ had a cast on her leg and wasn't walking anywhere.
But mentally and physically healthy humans, especially little ones, are resilient and adaptive. Having a cast and a bad "bump" was occasionally distressing to AJ, especially the first few days. Before long however, she was crawling, scooching and erm, standing and walking on her cast.
And remember how I said I couldn't wait for her to dance? Well, she started dancing with the cast on. (it sounds likes she's saying "mucous" in the video but she means "music")
She continues learning at an amazing rate. We definitely have to be mindful of what we say and do around her, as she is taking it all in. On the morning of Sunday June 12th I was relaxing in bed, looking a friend's Facebook page. A post caught my attention and I Googled the story to learn more. I found the story I was looking for, alright, and then I saw a news headline that dozens of people had been shot dead and injured in an Orlando nightclub. Mr. Turtle was up with AJ. I staggered out of bed and greeted AJ and him with "There has been another terrorist attack in the U.S. At least 20 people dead." AJ promptly began repeating, "Dead, dead!" Oh, no. It's official: I have to think about how to talk to her about terrorism, murder, violence. It's one of those things I accepted in theory, but it's a helluva lot different to look into her sweet face and think about how to say it.
Time goes on, the cast comes off. AJ didn't miss a beat: she showed no hesitation to walk or dance or even climb stairs after she had full use of both legs. I am being a bit more vigilant, especially when she starts climbing. But then yesterday I was walking close beside her outside, ready to snatch her away from danger, and she tripped on my foot and fell. Sigh.
Another first today. The daycare called and told me that another child had bitten AJ. Not to break the skin, but there were tooth marks visible. They said she was briefly upset, but soon consoled. I am not overly concerned about the incident itself, but it's the first time I know of that another child has been mean to AJ. Well, I don't know if toddlers can really be mean on purpose, but she might perceive it that way. It makes me wonder: how much will she worry about mean people in the world? Everybody does to some degree, but I hope it's not a crippling fear for her.
And finally, the Shakespeare quote has another somber resonance for me this week. It is of course part of Hamlet's famous soliloquy where he contemplates ending his life:
To be, or not to be? That is the question—
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
No more—and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to—
This weekend we received news that one of the graduating class at my school committed suicide. He had reportedly struggled with a variety of academic and life issues, but was not described as isolated: he had friends, he had plans, he had "many connections." "This is the last person I would have expected to harm himself," the principal said. Somewhere along the way however, he decided he could not accept what life had dealt him.
I didn't know this student personally, so the shocks reach me through the impact on other people's lives, and you cannot predict what where a fault will crack open. My colleague's eyes welled with tears as she stumblingly told me of her now adult daughter's suicide attempt and how this latest tragedy brought it back to her. It's a reminder that there is so much under the surface of people's lives. No wonder that we often think people behave in a unreasonable and irrational way when there is so much that can't be seen. It makes me even more grateful for the blog world and the outlet it provides me, and others.