This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of Tommy, taken during our year on the road with him. He is just a little more halfway between one and two, we were just about halfway done with our traveling, and both Matt and I were feeling a bit bewildered and exhausted since for the preceding six months we had not spent more than eight weeks in one spot.
All was forgotten on this day when we rode the Santa Train at the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom Wisconsin (another middle point – halfway across the United States). Tommy simply couldn’t believe that we were riding a “shoo-shoo” and that there were other “shoo-shoos” in the yard. “Wow!” he cried each time the whistle blew then he would point excitedly at a muddy cow pasture or a level crossing. He had to make sure we weren’t missing one frozen piece of prairie grass (although he had very little use for Santa Claus, who was jolly enough, but still scared him).
Watching the pleasure on his face, I realized that I had rarely in my life felt so proud or fully in the moment. To have a child capable of such attention and enthusiasm was my dream. I had been worried that at an hour, the ride would be too long for him, but he was happy the entire time. And looking at the smiling faces of Matt’s sister, brother-in-law, and their son and daughter, all of them as pleased as I was, I realized how many of these small but significant moments I could mark in Tommy’s development not just by how old he was, but by where we were during our yearlong adventure.
Never would I wonder to myself when he started walking, because I would see him running across the playground in Boston. I knew that he climbed stairs for the first time by himself in London and ate ice cream with his own little spoon in Florence. And here he was, on the Santa train, singing “Jingle Bells” lustily and almost on key. There was no need to measure out Tommy’s life with coffee spoons. Already, at 19 months, we had a rich backdrop for each small milestone, a specific location to attach to each change. Life on the road with a toddler wasn’t always fun or even interesting. But it was distinct. It was memorable.
This picture is for Photo Friday at Delicious Baby. Please stop by there and check out the other wonderful posts. And while you’re strolling around the Internet, visit the Passports with Purpose page. For a ten dollar donation to Heifer International, you can be registered to win a Flip video camera or other great prizes.