What I Do All Day

Sometimes, as I settle into bed at night I think, What did I do all day? Two years ago, when I had a full-time job, I still did laundry. I made dinner. I freelanced in addition to my full-time work. I went out with friends and watched TV and read and kept the bathroom clean. So how is it possible that much of that now never gets done even though I’m home all day?

And then I remember. Today, I walked down the stairs.

For most people, walking down stairs is a non-think act that takes less than 30 seconds. Granted, our stairs our steep. There are 15 of them. But with a toddler who is very much in the “I can do it” stage, walking down stairs is an activity. An event. And is just a small example of why I can’t close the lid of our laundry basket. I’ll illustrate this at-least-10-times-a-day event for you here.

Me: “Sophie, we have to go downstairs. Do you want me to carry you or do you want to walk?”

Sophie: “No! I want to walk! I can do it!”

I position myself in front of her. As I said, our stairs are steep. And she still has a tendency to slip—especially when wearing footed, fuzzy pjs.

Me: “Don’t you think it would be easier if you sat down?”

Sophie: “No! I want to walk.”

Me: “OK, well, be careful.”

She points to the handrail.

Sophie: “What’s that?”

Me: “It’s the handrail.”

Sophie: “It’s too high! I can’t reach it.”

Me: “I know. You will eventually. For now, just put your hand on the wall.”

She points to the metal brace that connects the handrail to the wall.

Sophie: “What’s that?”

Me: “It’s a metal brace that connects the handrail to the wall.”

Sophie: “What’s that?”

Me: “The handrail. Can you please take a step?”

She finally takes a step.

Me: “Good girl! OK, take another.”

Sophie: “Handrail. That’s handrail. I can’t reach it.”

Me: “I know. Just hold onto the wall.”

Sophie: “Tucker!”

Me: “Tucker’s napping. He’ll come down later.”

Sophie: “Tucker!”

Me: “Sophie, come on, we have to go downstairs. Please take another step. Do you want me to carry you?”

Sophie: “No, Mom! No. I can do it.”

Me: “OK, well, take a step.”

She takes a few more steps.

Sophie: “I can do it, Mom!”

Me: “I know! And you’re doing such a good job. Now keep walking.”

She stops. And points to a piece of fuzz.

Sophie: “Uh oh.”

Me: “It’s just fuzz, Sophie, I’ll vacuum it up later.”

Sophie: “Messy. I clean it.”

Me: “No, Sophie, you don’t have to clean it. It’s OK.”

Sophie: “No, I get it!”

Me: “No, Sophie, you’re on the stairs. Concentrate.”

Sophie: “I get it!”

Me: “Here, I’ll get it for you. See? All gone. Now please keep walking down the steps.”

She takes a few more steps. And then sees a pair of my shoes on the steps. And stops.

Sophie: “Mama’s shoes?”

Me: “Yes, those are my shoes.”

She points to my slippers, which I’m wearing.

Sophie: “Mama’s shoes?”

Me: “Yes, Mama’s shoes, too. Now please keep walking.”

She points to her own shoes.

Sophie: “Sophie’s shoes?”

Me: “Yes, those are your shoes. Keep walking.”

She takes a few more steps. And stops. And touches her hair.

Sophie: “Haircut?”

Me: “Yes, Sophie, you got your haircut.”

Sophie: “Nicholena cut it.”

Me: “Yes, Sophie, Nicholena cut it. Please keep walking.”

Sophie: “I sat in chair!”

Me: “Yes. And someday you’ll get your haircut again. Just a few more steps, Sophie. Come on. Concentrate.”

She points to the handrail.

Sophie: “I can’t reach it.”

Me: “No, you can’t reach it. Not yet. Keep walking.”

Sophie: “Tucker!”

Me: “Tucker’s napping, Sophie. And it’s too much for all three of us to be on the stairs at once. Now please keep walking.”

Sophie: “Tucker!”

Me: “Sophie, concentrate! Keep walking.”

She points to the light switch.

Sophie: “Light! I want to turn on the light!”

Me: “Sophie, we’re almost done. We don’t need to turn on the light.”

Sophie: “I want to turn on the light!”

Me: “Look, just two more steps. Come on. I know you can do it.”

Sophie: “Light! Light! I want to turn on the light!”

We turn the light on. We turn the light off. She moves to the other side of the steps. Why? Who knows. But she does it every time. Finally, she reaches bottom.

Sophie: “I did it!”

Me (with every last ounce of patience I have): “Yes, you did it. Good job.”

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” —Jean Jacques Rousseau