Walk this way.
My daughter is walking. This is big news. You may have already guessed this. Pictures in previous posts could have given it away. Or the fact that she’s over a year, that’s when most babies walk, though we’ve met sloth-like babies still immobile into their second. Or you may have noticed the bumps and bruises adorning her large baby head.
Walking means falling. Babies are top-heavy, their centre of gravity is right between the eyes. Her little legs have trouble keeping upright with that giant baby head atop her shoulders. So she falls. Often. This leads to bumps, bruises, and crying. Diapers can provide a soft landing when they fall bottom first. Filled diapers an even softer one.
My daughter walked and fell early. I vividly remember those first steps.
My wife was out for drinks with her gossipy girlfriends. I was home alone with the baby. We were playing. She was standing. I was encouraging her to walk. She could walk if you held her hand, but she’d yet to do it independently. Until that moment. She stumbled a few steps towards me before collapsing. I was overjoyed.
First steps! First steps!
I was excited. This was big. As far as baby development goes this was huge. My excitement soon led to guilt. I had seen my daughter’s first steps. My wife had not. And it was my fault. I encouraged the missed milestone. She missed first steps. According to Hollywood, if you miss first steps and/or ballet recitals you are a bad parent.
The next morning, I tried to recreate the scenario. Hoping to rewrite history for my wife. The baby was standing, she moved towards me. My wife was watching.
“Look, first steps!”
My wife was nonplussed.
“Those are stumbles.”
I was relieved that my wife didn’t miss those first steps and sort of disappointed that I had; however, her true first steps happened soon after. She was 10 months old and being plied with watermelon. She loves watermelon. It was the old carrot in front of the horse trick. She was standing and trying to eat watermelon that was being held just out of reach. She walked to retrieve it. Unaware of what she was doing. We were both overjoyed.
With coercion and distraction, that’s how milestones happen.
So now she walks. All the time. It’s all she wants to do. She looks different now that she walks. She’s no longer this little creature dragging lint across our floor. She stands upright. She’s a little person. She walks. She walks like her legs don’t bend at the knee. She walks without the right rhythm. Sometimes her walking looks like goose-stepping other times it looks like she’s a drunken zombie. But she’s walking!
Walking like every other developmental milestone changed how we cared for our daughter. Before walking she was contained. She was a train with very specific tracks: around the coffee table, on the window ledge, beneath the side table, any flat surface two feet above the floor. Walking opened up our house to our daughter. She was free to roam.
It was a big step for her, pun sort of intended, and it led directly to our next big step. Baby-proofing.