The Most Deceiving Milestone

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Will walks now.  He walks fast  He’s pretty sure of himself.  He likes walking.

And yet, everyday I find myself picking my walking baby up and carrying him far more than I ever thought I would. It’s always amazing to me how many of my pre-baby conceptions about childhood development have been proven completely inaccurate by real-life parenting.

Pre-baby I always thought that, by the time a kid learned how to walk, that was it.  They’d be walking.  Inside, outside, in the store, to the store, what have you.  One day they’re crawling, the next day you’re strolling hand-in-hand to the park.

Haha.  Apparently that’s not really how it works.  First they walk a couple steps at a time without falling down, then it’s a couple more.  Then they can walk solidly–but only on smooth surfaces and in straight lines.  Then they start figuring out how to maneuver around and over things.

Then you realize you should really get them a pair of shoes.

Then you realize that selling baby shoes to the parents of first-born, 1 years olds is probably one of the most lucrative business models of all time.

Then the babies (now wearing shoes) start figuring out that they can walk up to any shelf in any grocery store/drug store/gas station aisle and start dumping packages of Lipton Ice Tea all over the ground.

Then they start grabbing the Pay Day candy bars and waving them around in the air whilst walking away because they like the way the package crinkles in their hands when they do that.

(And they’ll look so cute doing these things that you’ll have a hard time remembering that you’re supposed to be teaching them important things like manners and the illegality of shoplifting).

We adhere to a pretty relaxed “live and learn” philosophy with Will.  We don’t mind when he falls down, when he tries a food that is perhaps a little too spicy for his tastes, when he can’t figure out how to make something work and gets frustrated.  Our first instinct is usually to hang back and see if he can do something for himself before jumping in to help.

I assumed it would be the same when Will started walking, but it’s really, really not.  Once we leave our apartment building, things get so much more complicated than I ever foresaw.

Falling on his bum on the sidewalk?  Not such a big deal.  Wanting to toddle his way into traffic?  That was a heart attack I planned on.  But stopping to eat mulch, pick up a cigarette butt, or attempt to knock down a towering store display of Listerine bottles onto his noggin?  Sooo not things I ever gave any thought to pre-walking.

Furthermore, even when babies know how to walk perfectly, that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand that their parents might want them to walk in order to actually go somewhere.

Strangely enough Will never seems to understand that the original end-goal for us venturing out on a 95 degree day at 3pm in the afternoon was to go to the CVS two blocks away—not to spend 30 minutes circling the shiny metal chair on the sidewalk across the street.

So, we’re doing lots and lots of learning right now.  Lots of practicing.  Lots of squatting in the middle of pedestrian walkways to check out the interesting texture of the grit between sidewalk blocks.  Lots of scanning for piles of bird droppings, litter, and other such irresistibly attractive would-be baby toys.  Lots of giving Will tiny baby-sized bits of freedom only to hear the words “no, no, no! Please Please Please DON”T!” flying out of the mouth of this “let’s only use positive language!” Mama.

So this is what everyone meant when they said “you think it’s bad now, just wait until he’s walking.”  I always thought they meant…well I’m sure I really didn’t have a clue what “they” meant at the time.  When it comes to parenthood, I don’t think any of us actually understand what we’re “in for” at any stage until we’re already through it.  Which is probably a good thing, really.

As such, right now we’re in that super cute-yet-slightly-nerve-wracking phase in which we try to let Will walk around town with us as much as possible, but–owing to city traffic and the daily need to actually accomplish errands on foot–it’s not always as often as I once thought it would be.

We’re getting there though, slowly.  Thanks to a healthy dose of separation anxiety and the carrot-on-a-stick motivational quality of my dangling purse strap  (Will likes chasing after it when I hold it out in front of him) we’re up to almost 2 blocks of baby-powered locomotion and gaining.

I don’t know when we’ll finally be able to do an entire multiple-block outing sans Ergo or stroller, but we’ll get there eventually–especially if we remember to budget enough time to play with/thoroughly examine every chair, rock, flower and bug we see along the way.

When did your baby go from walking around the house to walking around town?  Was the transition longer or shorter than you expected?

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Will’s shoes are “cookie monster” Stride Rite “First Walkers.” We originally bought them simply because Will didn’t hate them and they were 50% off. We love them now though because they are also the easiest shoes to get on and off Will’s feet. They are not on sale anymore on Amazon but some of the other, similar styles appear to be!


2 thoughts on “The Most Deceiving Milestone

    • Thanks Kristin! I tried commenting on your blog the other day but something went wrong so let me say here CONGRATULATIONS!! Your little bean is adorable and I love your post the other day about poop, etc. It’s amazing how it becomes such an all-consuming conversation topic isn’t it? Take care and enjoy those lovely (exhausting) newborn days!

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