He was six months old. Almost to the day. I took him out for a walk. Of course I was walking – he was not. Though he was just crawling, and that’s kind of the point of this – well some of it. We went, as we often did before we moved, to Hough End playing fields.
Saturday afternoons aren’t that busy on the playing fields, but there is amateur rugby and I’d regularly intended to go and watch some with the boy in tow. This day I did remember. Of course as I walked up to the pitch delighted at something to occupy half an hour the referee blew the whistle for the end of the game.
Ah well. There was another game on at the small stadium so we walked on. Of course that game would also finish within seconds of us getting there. But I digress (to the future of all places). We walked past the players of the game that had just finished. As is customary in some amateur sport (it used to happen in the football games I played on Sundays and it happened here) the captains of each team do three cheers for the opposition. Hip-hip hurrah etc.
Woodrow’s face lit up at this shouting and hurrahing. He really liked it. Later on after I’d bathed him and shouted his mum in with the towel I said, “Three cheers for tonight’s man of the bath: Woodrow Ainsworth Bridgehouse…hip-hip…” and his mother and I proceeded to hip-hip-hurrah him three times (in total). And he loved it.
Six months and about 180 baths later he is continuing to be decorated with this Man of The Bath honour every night. And he enjoys it every night with a big smile.
The other thing that happened that afternoon on Hough End was that I had one of my first experiences of watching my son experience joy. He’d been crawling for a few weeks. We lived in a flat, he’d come up against lots of barriers. Not like black people in the 50s on buses in Alabama, more literal barriers: walls etc.
But I took him out of his carrier and put him on the grass and just let him go. There was no-one around and he just got to carry on. He was a bit weirded out at first. “Aren’t you going to have to pick me up or something?” his lopsided head asked me. But I didn’t and it made him all giddy. And unsurprisingly this joy pushed me towards something teary.
It was one of my best days.
Today he was one year old.