Wednesday, September 26, 2012

and she's off!

My nephew was born five years ago.  Long before I even contemplated having a child, I remember my sister telling me about the things he learned to do.  Things you never even give a second thought to.  Walking in flip-flops.  Holding an umbrella.  Climbing into the sandbox.

It is true that seeing the world through the eyes of a child reintroduces you to the complexity involved in even our simplest tasks.

Vicki Jo has begun to walk, finally, and definitively.  She flirted with it for a long time, walking while holding on to my finger, but then dropping to crawl when she spotted something she wanted.  She cruised along the walls and from item to item in each room.  She pushed her walker wagon along with confidence.  And then she walked.  At nearly 18 months, she is on the very late end of the curve here.  Although my anxiety attempted to rear up on a number of occasions, we allowed her to unfold this mystery on her own, with no interventions or extra supports.  (It helped that one of our dear friends from Topeka, who is also a pediatric physical therapist, did a casual evaluation at our home when Vicki was about fourteen months, and found no problems.)

It has helped that she is still quite small and slim.  People didn't seem to think it was so unusual when we were out and about that she wasn't walking.  Not that that makes any difference, but it can wreck your confidence to hear from a thousand strangers that your child is somehow messed up!

Many people with late walkers told me that the major benefit is your child will fall less and be a better walker from the jump.  This has been true for us!  There haven't been the wipeouts, the blackened eyes, the skinned knees that have plagued my friends with normal-aged walkers.

In general, a trait I would ascribe to Vicki Jo is carefulness, or meticulousness.  Each thing needs to be carefully placed in its proper spot (even if it seems to make no sense to me!).  She looks at the ground as she walks, not missing bumps or steps.  She is careful and slow.  

<--  Walking whilst also wearing big-girl undies!  Achievements!

But the other thing people told me about having a late walker (namely:  "enjoy it!  Once she starts, you'll be chasing her forever.") is true, too.  She is off and there is no telling her that she won't be walking here or there because it isn't safe.  

I won't say it was easy to sit back and let her develop as nature intended.  But there was no other way.  There was no forcing her to walk.  And I'm glad we didn't try.

Going to visit her great-granddaddy at Memaw's house.  He has severe Alzheimer's and yet he remembers her name!

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