Monday, April 23, 2012

On Walking

My daughter is fifteen-months-old today. She knows how to walk...but she doesn’t walk...at least not on her own. Instead, she hangs onto furniture, walls, our fingers, or her walker, which is designed to look like a toy, but really isn’t much different from the kind of walker she’ll use when she’s 90-years-old.

Occasionally, we’ll catch her standing on her own, especially when she drinks milk out of her sippy-cup. That is amazing to me, because to throw her entire head back, as if she were doing a shot of tequila, involves much more balance and coordination than just standing or walking. Whenever we find her standing by herself, it seems to surprise her just as much as it surprises us. If we push her to stand or walk on her own, however, she’ll instantly drop to her knees.

I’d imagine she lacks the self-confidence. We try hard to encourage her to walk, although I’m not really sure why. No one has ever told me, “Oh yeah, life is much easier when your kid can run around the house faster than you can keep up with them.” I suppose the reason we’re trying to get her to walk is that we want her to push herself to do something we know she already has the capability to do. There are going to be a lot of times in her life when she has the ability to do something, but lacks the self-confidence. Perhaps speaking in a school play, maybe hopping over logs on her bicycle or going off a ski-jump, even flying an airplane...or jumping out of an airplane.

 I want to push her to do things that are a little out of her comfort zone, because I think that’s what makes a good parent...and a confident child. I’m not saying that I know anything about being a good parent, because it’s all new to me. Someday, she’ll realize our ability to act like parents is about equal to her ability to act like a child. We’re all learning as we go. My main goal is to enjoy all the little moments that make me smile...and watch the joy in her face as she conquers whatever it is she’s trying to do on that particular day.

There are a lot of fifteen-month-olds who are walking and that’s great. But you know what, it won’t be long before she’ll be a 90-year-old woman using a plain grey walker in a nursing home. She’ll be walking soon enough, until then, I kind of like the way she grips my finger when we walk across the front lawn.