A couple of days ago Mitch sat in on a class from 6-9 pm so the kids and I went over to school at 5 to see him before class. We bought sandwiches and vitamin water from the student center and sat outside on benches in the courtyard and ate. It's funny to have little kids on a college campus--they are such a rare sight that everyone looks and smiles and coos.
Clark spent much of his time climbing up and down the three steps into the building. One side of the courtyard was bordered by a little landscaped hill covered in rich dark mulch, and after he'd tired of the steps he walked up the hill. The first time he turned around to come back down the hill I realized his unfortunate lack of caution, and I was able to grab his hands and help him down. The second time I wasn't standing as close. I saw him turn and take a step down the hill, and then I was reaching out, moving toward him, long leaping steps, when he tumbled over and landed on his face. Turns out it's experience that teaches us to close our eyes and mouth when we fall into a pile of dirt. Dirt up his nose, all in his mouth, in his ears, in his eye, down his shirt. Later I even found dirt in his diaper. He wailed. I tried to wipe the dirt off as best I could but I wasn't very successful. Finally I gave him a drink of water so he could at least swallow the stuff in his mouth. The dirt in his eye had to just flush out on its own after a bit. Oh it was pitiful. His wails echoed off the building walls there in the courtyard, such an odd sound against the foot traffic and voices of college students.
Later we went up to Mitch's office where things deteriorated into my taking one thing and then another out of Clark's hands and/or mouth while Mitch tried to keep Frances from drawing on his student roster. I was too busy maintaining to even distract... After we got home and I'd put the kids to bed by myself I thought about how parts of being out in public were easier than they were even a few months ago, but how still it's exhausting. Now that Frances is getting older, though, I have hope. I can see that it won't be like this forever...
It seems to me that the parent's primary role with the babies is simply to keep them from killing themselves. I've been wanting to get a gate at the top of our stairs so I can change a bed without having to run out into the hall every three seconds to be sure Clark hasn't flung himself down the stairs. A few weeks ago I spent a good amount of time teaching him how to go down the stairs backwards and he's pretty good about it, but still. I don't have to worry about this kind of thing with Frances anymore. Now I just have to call on my patience and creativity when she throws herself screaming on the floor. A different challenge. I think I'm better at the latter.