Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind (He's walking!)

We knew this day would come. Just like I waited in tense anticipation when he would say "mmm" to have the consonant progress to a name I had never been called (we are all born with different names and most of us end with the same and most important- mama or dada), I have been waiting weeks to see my little one make his first steps.

Around his first birthday, he was very adept at getting up by himself and within a week was walking, albeit with much trepidation, while he could hold onto something. He was side-stepping across the walls and child fences around our house and slowly walking with us when we held his hand or when he had his walker. My dad, who was here visiting over that time, was determined to be here when the big moment came and as any programmer, tried to program my son into walking. "What he needs" my dad decided after careful study of his subject, "is for his concentration to diverted" he mused. My husband and I agreed. He was so careful in his steps and so unwilling to let go that it seemed fear was holding him back rather than any ineptitude. After all, the poor guy certainly had his fair share of falls, including a recent nose dive onto our wooden floorboards (replaced that weekend by a fluffy carpet - floorboards may be chic, but they are your child's nemesis), so we could hardly blame him for his caution. Then followed weeks of the walk circus. We were waving toys around, enticing him with food, music - you name it, all the glory of the world was just a few short steps away.

And it bloody well worked. One step! Two Steps! Three Steps! Four! We were elated. Soon, there must be more.

The first time he took two steps, enticed by a Rubik's cube (my dad seems to think that if he buys 2 Rubik's cubes every time he sees my son, he will by osmosis), he fell on his arse when he realized that he was walking, due to our cheering. Thus followed our paradoxical pantomime in which we tried to be concomitantly nonchalant and yet encouraging at the same time. We would like to think that our contorted reactions aided his progress, but after a few small steps here and there, he was taking a few every day. And then he ran across the room.

One day he was crawling. The next, running. It does go by so fast. We were elated! And then... Holy shit, he can touch that now? He's turning on the stove! He's opening the drawers! He's opening the doors! He is running head first into the shelf! We had to ramp up safety features fast.

What I find very interesting is that from the moment your child starts to walk, they walk. Even though they're much more adept and faster at crawling, they eschew this mode of movement and firmly take on their bipedal state. My son has not crawled at all since he could walk (save for crawling with his buddy through a material tunnel that gave them seemingly endless joy), even when I have crawled in front of him (when he was crawling, it would give him such joy when we joined him for a crawl). It's as if he understands - and accepts- that to crawl is beneath walking (I couldn't help it) and that one would only crawl if they couldn't walk. It's the primal example of cultural immersion at work. Or maybe he's so excited that he can walk - his arms outstretched, partly for balance, partly to state to the world I CAN DO THIS! - that he forgets to crawl. My husband reckons he's just happy that his knees don't hurt anymore.


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