My Karsten is now one year and three months old. I talk to him in both English and German, although my latter is still as basic as Kindergarten level.
One phrase I often tell him is: “Fest halten die mama, bitte!”
In my simple German, it means, “Hold on tight to mommy, please!” (Although a direct translation of this line might read, “Keep firm the mommy, please!”)
Karsten knows what it means. When I am carrying him up or down the stairs, or around some steep, hilly corner, it means to snuggle his arms tight around my neck, and not let go. If my other hand is full with bottles of milk, or the diaper bag, or a bundle of winter clothes, he must hold on, and not let go.
Some days, I tell him to “halten fest,” even when I am not carrying anything in my other hand. Even though I do not intend to drop him, or hold him loosely, and even though he is now very capable of walking on his own. I like it when he secures himself to me, with a big, happy, trusting smile on his face.
Maybe a part of me knows that, in time, he will let go, and I won’t be able to tell him to hold on. In time, he will carry himself to places that he chooses, up and down steep crossings—or to faraway places, and where I can’t always go with him.
When that time comes, it will be me who needs to learn to let go. But for now, we will hold each other. And I will enjoy every minute of it.