Benjamin put his sandal on by himself today. I was checking my email, and he quietly stepped into his playroom. He was very quiet for a minute or so, and then he returned triumphantly wearing one sandal! I cheered for him and he looked please with himself, but in a very cool, collected way. I put his other sandal on and we went out back for a while. The heat has been suffocating so far, but at least it was kind of cloudy today, so it was manageable. I had a surprise for Ben--an box of 20 brand new Crayola sidewalk chalks in all different colors, sharpened into a point on one end so that they looked like crayons.
He couldn't wait for me to unwrap them. He frantically grabbed them from me as soon as they were unwrapped, until he had nearly ten thick pieces of chalk in his hand, balancing precariously. But no, he wanted more. He wanted it all! So I kept unwrapping them, and he kept reaching for them, and then he started dropping a few on the ground. And crying. And tripping on the ones he had already dropped. And I patted him on the back and told him it was okay if he couldn't carry 20 gigantic peices of chalk at one time. He was devastated for a second, but then he plopped down and began drawing on the patio, the stepping stones, the walkway to the garage, and every inch of rock within his ability. By the time he was finished, he was dirty and colorful, so it was time for a bath. I wrenched the chalk from his fingers and put it away, and he screamed as though I had punched him. Once the water was running and he had his foam letters, however, he forgot all about his chalk.
Ben is notorious for pooping in the bathtub, so I wanted to give him a quick dip, but just as I was about to take him out of the bath, he began doing his second first: washing himself. He grabbed the baby wash from the side of the tub and instead of trying to lick it, he pretended like he was squirting the soap onto his hands and then he washed himself--his legs, his arms, and his chest. He looked up at me excitedly, and this is what I told him: You are well on your way to manhood now, Benjamin Bartlett. Men know how to wear sandals and give themselves baths.