March 30, 2011

Drop the Dog and Run

As I have shared before, I went knitting crazy when I was pregnant. After returning home from Jo Ann's fabrics that fateful Saturday bizarre (not a typo) afternoon, I promptly began working on project after project. I wasn't fast, mind you, but I was long-suffering and tenacious.

Knowing almost nothing about knitting, I suffered blindly through confusing pattern terminology, YouTube videos, casting on, casting off, knitting, purling, shaping oh, so badly....until finally it paid off. It felt like destiny and I couldn’t be stopped.

At the end of several months, I had completed a blanket, a baby sweater, hat and booties, which I finished shortly before Amy Rose was born. During those days before the birth, I began a sort of ritual.

I would get the new knitted baby things out. Then I would fold them and put them into the baby's hospital overnight bag. Then I would get them back out, unfold them, gaze at them one more time, hold them up, assemble them onto the bed as though they were actually on a child, gaze at them, fold them, pack them, get them back out...unfold them...
…gaze...hold them up...
…you get the idea.

I just couldn't stand it. It was unbelievable to me that I had actually made something useful from two sticks and a string.  I was hooked. Once Amy was truly here, you can bet your best, size 17 nickel-plated Addi Turbos with brass tips that she was wearing those clothes all the time. I hated to wash them.

People began to wonder whether or not she had other clothes. The first time they saw the outfits, they would rave, “Oh, isn’t she adorable!”  After seeing them several times, the remarks were reduced to, “Do you need anything?” asked in a careful, sheepish way as they suspiciously stared at the baby. I just wanted to see them on her again and again. That was all. Then, a funny thing happened.

The sleeves began to grow short. The hem rose. Amy Rose did what all children did, she grew.

This could only mean one thing: I had to begin knitting faster immediately!

I worked on a new blanket, some hats, sweaters, all manner of baby items. She was my tiny, compliant model. I loved every minute of it. And, amidst all the joy, I secretly feared for the day she would realize that her own ideas could be expressed.

That day has come.

At two years old, Amy Rose has decided that she loves to run naked. Totally, unabashedly naked. Down the hall, to her room, to the tub, from the tub, down the stairs ... she would run naked down the street if we would let her.

While this is typical for most two-year-olds, it seems to be of particular joy to her. She revels in removing articles of clothing, freely tossing aside toys in her path and, having freed herself from all earthly burdens, rapidly—and somewhat unsteadily—toddle on her way, curly little head of hair bouncing and tiny bottom jiggling.

We have labeled this behavior "Naked Running."

When I am not worrying that she might be cold or that I may need to lay newspapers all over the floor of our house to accommodate this puppy-style behavior, I am trying to teach her that is not socially acceptable to be naked in public.

Of course, here in Portland, Oregon, we have those well-meaning and lovely folks who enjoy nude cycling on occasion, but generally speaking, people, and babies in particular, need clothes.

While in the throes of this nature vs. nurture debate with my two year old, I continue to knit for her--I have all sorts of things in the works for her. And even if Amy's feelings are changing, mine are not: I am still enthralled at the notion of seeing her in my creations. Not only do I like seeing them on her after the hours, days or weeks I spend working on them late into each night, I like to take pictures of her wearing them once they are done.

This would happen every day if I had my way, but our Great Northwest weather and the demeanor of our baby girl prohibit it. Thus, photo shoot days are special.

The other day, after completing a lovely eyelet cardigan and a hat of my very own design, complete with a ruffly, crocheted edge and a ribbon cinch, I wanted to take a photo of Amy in it. I was off work, the sun was sort of out and it was not raining. Much. Here, in the Northwest, we call that a great spring day.

After getting out my camera, my new 50mm portrait lens (purchased in part just for an occasion such as this), and the newly completed knitted outfit, I collected little Amy Rose who came battling all the way, having been torn from watching her Barney DVD.

After arguing in futility for a time with a toddler, I agreed to let her bring her favorite stuffed doggie out with us. I thought that might help the transition. I put new tights, the little hat and sweater and some brand new Osh Kosh B’Gosh cowgirl boots onto my tiny dolly. We headed out the front door.

Jo, my 22-year-old daughter, has recently done some quite artful, intricate wood burning on a crate for our front porch. I liked the idea of seeing the burnt designs contrasting the peaches and cream color scheme of Amy's hand knits. I carefully put the crate on the edge of the wet grass in our front yard. I was willing to take a chance for a photo like this.

I set Amy down so I could use both hands to make sure the crate was balanced on the uneven ground so Amy could sit on it. I wasn't watching her. Amy took off her hat and stepped in the mud next to the grass that had previously been a flower bed before some recent rain.

I cleaned off the new OshKosh B’Gosh boots and sat her on the crate, hat now crookedly perched on her head. Approximately .008 seconds later, Amy took the hat off completely and knelt in the wet grass holding her doggie a little too low. She was saying, “Buggy? Buggy?”

I cleaned off her knees, picked up the now dirty dog and put the baby back on the crate. Maybe the dog would not be so noticeable in the photo. Where had I put my camera? Oh, yes, it had been around my neck. I backed up from Amy and the crate to look through the camera.

Seeing an opportunity, Amy tossed the dog back into the grass and this time threw the hat over the flowerbed into the driveway. She stood up and ran in the opposite direction of the hat throw, toward the neighbor's yard. I stepped in the mud chasing her.

I cleaned off my own shoes and carried a kicking and screaming Amy Rose back to the front yard.

I began to wonder if we shouldn't just wait the usual 45 days for the next sunny day and try again. Provided the sweater still fit. By now, I was sweating from all the clothes: mine, my jacket, hot screaming baby body in tights, boots and sweater. I looked around helplessly, still holding a squirming girl under my right arm, potato sack style. I was looking partly for a more private setting and partly to see if any neighbors could see what was going on.

Our house is situated right next to a fenced off, but very lovely watershed complete with evergreen and deciduous trees. Next to the  fence, the developer put in a quaint sidewalk that winds from the street, to our side yard and curves behind our house. It travels through some nice landscaping and eventually leads to the neighborhood park.

I thought that maybe Amy would like to walk along the sidewalk then she could get her wiggles out and I could finally get some pictures. I put her gently down under a large evergreen right behind our house, her little cowgirl-booted feet found their footing. I gave her the doggie she had wanted to have outside so badly. I arranged her hat just so.

Apparently curious about this little change of scenery, she looked around quietly. A nice breeze had started up, and little wisps of her curly hair were peeking out from under the creamy ruffle of her hat, lifting and floating in the wind. She looked so precious. She squinted in the afternoon sunlight, trying to look up at me. I backed up a little and got the lens cap back off my camera for about the fifth time.

Amy threw the dog down and she ran. She ran for all she was worth. Toward the park. There went the hat....I recognized this as the moment the clothes were on their way off. I wondered if she could do it with a sweater and tights...

I let her do it. I let her run. After all, what harm is there in dropping a little baggage, a little inhibition now and then? Maybe we all should do it.

I lifted the camera and pressed the shutter button.


Sandy said...

Wow, you started out with turbo's...that's something most of us work up. Hum...maybe that's why you did so well right from the start? Interesting idea.

I hear people say all the time kids like to run about without a stitch on, I never experienced that when mine was little or with any of the hundreds I babysat for back in the dark ages. Perhaps that's because we didn't allow it way back then? Who knows. Still though, enjoyed the story. Thanks for the smile

The Knitting Muse said...

Hello, Sandy!

Actually, I first bought bamboo, but yes, early on I was required to purchase not one, but two pairs of Addi Turbos because I signed up for a toe-up sock class given by Chrissy Gardener! Crazy first class to take, I know! : ) They took some getting used to for sure and brought back scary memories of my grandma's slippery aluminum needles!

Amy Rose is the only of our 6 children who wants to be naked. So it has been a new experience for us for sure!

Thank you so much for reading and for the comment!