Dad reporting in, late at night (11:27 p.m.):
Not a creature was stirring, until from the baby monitor there arose such a clatter, Elijah sitting up in his crib talking to himself at the top of his lungs. Seriously, a conversation complete with questions, answers, exclamations and thoughtful responses (i.e. "Hmm! Yeah!") I just had to get him out of bed and play with him, and also give him some more to eat.
On the way upstairs, he asked me to put him on the floor of the foyer. Before I knew what was happening, he had climbed the first three steps of the flight leading to our second floor. These first steps curve and each have about twice the surface area of the other steps, so when he got to the first proper stair, I thought he might slow down or ask me to pick him up. Instead, he bore down on the step and said, "I'm climbing, Daddy!"
And climb he did. One step, then the next, and although I had a hand hovering behind him the whole way, I never once had to use it to catch or steady him. The process went like this: 1) He would swing his left leg onto the step, 2) reach up TWO steps ahead with his right hand, 3) pull forward with the hand while he lifted with the foot, and 4) lift his entire body with the remaining right foot and left hand. Then, 5) once his whole body was on the step, resting forward on his elbows, he would carefully scoot his bottom underneath his torso, because HE KNOWS he can't sit up until he has cleared the entire step. And my friends, he did that 16 times, one after the other, never slowing down. The whole climb only took about five or six minutes.
About halfway through his quest, he needed to take a little breather. Instinctively, I said, "Don't give up, Eli!" And he responded with, "Don't give up, Daddy!" He kept repeating this until, inevitably, he reached the balcony and demanded to know where his stuffed Clifford doll was. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, cheer or just stand there speechless. I'm still swimming in a little hazy cloud of Impressed.
Now we're going to watch "Clifford's Big Movie," which Elijah has MEMORIZED from beginning to end. He finishes every sentence, he sings the songs, and whenever the characters act startled by the Big Red Dog, Elijah always participates. "OH WOW!" he shouts then throws up his hands, as though it's the first time he's ever seen Clifford hop out of the trees.
It's nights like this I remember: For all our efforts to make life easier for Eli, for all our work and planning to provide him with joy and happiness and a loving home, it is he who has brought joy to our home; it is Eli who has improved our quality of life. And as for you, Eli's prayer for you tonight is this... "Don't give up!"