With arms outstretched...

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Baby no more.

2007-06-01 - 5:43 p.m.

“Learning to walk” is not, as I’d kind of expected, a sudden event. At the back of my mind I think I’d pictured babies taking their first steps one day, being shaky on their pins for a week or two, and then just, well, walking. I thought the first steps would be so exhilarating that they’d want to practice over and over until they perfected it. I think this image had been conceived based on what other parents had written on their blogs and said to me.

Grommet, however, is no daredevil. Her first unsupported “step” was cajoled out of her quite a few weeks ago and since then it’s been a very gradual increase in the number she’ll do at one go. We tricked her into her first sequence of four or five steps by holding her hips while she walked (normally she prefers to have her hands held - one is the minimum but both, in her mind, are far better and allow her to charge around, dragging Mumma or Daddy with her). Too clever by half, she quickly discovered that the way to thwart this is to lean backwards in our grasp; we can’t let go of her or she’d timm-berrr straight back.

Gradually though, she is learning to walk. This process is aided by us finding new ways to get her to do it. Distraction is often key: if we put something in both her hands that she wants to keep holding, then she has to walk without holding on to us. A few days ago J turned the Grom’s shoe obsession to our advantage. He discovered that if you put her several feet from a rack of shoes at a store, she’ll make a reeling beeline for them without thinking about the fact she’s walking. And it’s when she’s not thinking about walking that she’s best at it.

My favourite though? Is when she charges me, grinning and giggling, arms outstretched. I stand her up on her feet and make sure she’s balanced, then I sit back a few feet and hold out my arms and say, “Walk to Mumma!” As she steps forward, I try to skootch backwards on my butt, keeping her within cushioning distance if she falls, but keeping me out of her reach. She usually catches me within about 4 feet and throws her arms around my neck in a big hug, both of us crowing in delight and triumph.

Having a child sure has its challenges, but moments like that are the rewards, and they happen all the time, and you just want to hold onto them and never let them go.

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