The precious one walks. Precariously. Millions of years ago and after millions of years of pottering about in the crouched position, some apes decided it was probably a jolly good idea to stand up and have a bash at putting one foot in front of the other. The precious one has come to this conclusion in a little over a year. He more totters and face plants then strides. But it’s another milestone to chalk off and we’re having fun watching him teeter around like a drunk woman in high heels on an icy Boxing night in Wigan.
In the run up to the walking there was a lot of enjoyment in the anticipation. It didn’t matter that he didn’t do it. Plus we got to have fun coming up with rules for what would officially constitute a first step. A simple dangle of one leg followed by an Australian batting collapse would not do. The second leg had to purposefully (important) come through and propel him further forward. He had to show some evidence of landing that move and then he could fall over if he felt like.
The emotion didn’t really come through in the text message that I received to notify me of it. I was on a “weekend pass” which came about because a friend phoned to offer a spare festival ticket it at an apt time. We couldn’t all go, so I did. I made sure I glugged maximum enjoyment. I don’t party like I did just a few years ago. In my head I can party like I did a few years ago but generally I’m drunk by 10pm and ready for bed. Thankfully this time I learned my lesson and made sure that I was still sort of upright as the sun splintered the night clouds.
As I crawled from my tent on a pounding Sunday morning, every drop of water wrenched from my body by the tortuous process of sun beating through canvas, I got the text. He walks. People assume I’m gutted not to have been there with video camera in hand. In truth, I’m not. Pre-precious one, I thought this would be the kind of thing that would make me feel teary. That I’d take a snapshot in my brain and store it away to metaphorically pull out and mull over as I get older, sitting back with a glass of wine and a warm glow. These moments are different to how I imagined. If I’d still never seen him walk, or missed the entire process of him figuring it out then I’d be upset. But I have and I haven’t.
It’s partly a sense of relief. It’s like ticking a developmental box. It starts from the moment in the delivery room when the midwife counts his precious toes in front of you. It carries on through all stages of development. Is his weight going up? Can he roll over? Can he sit up? Can he crawl? Is he sleeping enough? Is he eating solids? Has he said his first word (that was a point of conjecture for some time)? Can he cruise around the sofa? Can he walk? We wouldn’t send him back if he couldn’t, but life is pretty tricky at the best of times, especially with the skin that he will inherit from me in his teenage years, so we’re pleased for his sake that he can. When he was demonstrating an aptitude that implied walking, that box was ticked. Seeing it was just a confirmation of what we knew. I love seeing it now. I loved watching him walk around the living room earlier today – 8 steps is his new PB.
Everything is gradual, so I think you need to be philosophical about magic moments, unless you want to be with them non-stop. It was months ago that he first demonstrated an inclination to join the upright world. Then he lost interest. He cruised around the furniture and climbed up things but crawling did the job as far as he was concerned. Then we entered a period where he stood up on his own, usually when he was distracted by needing to clap his own brilliance for doing something like pulling all the cereal off the shelf. Then he’d become aware of his “no hands” position and promptly fall over. We knew he could walk, he just didn’t have the confidence. You’d need the tenacity of a Royal Baby news crew to ensure that you didn’t miss the moment.
I’ve decided that I’m of the opinion that the “first moment” is a myth that has been thrust upon us by marketing people who want to flog an idealised world for us to fail to aspire to. In the few days since said walking took place he’s been doing loads more of it. He’s getting better but he’s still a bit rubbish. I’ve had a lot of fun going back and forth across the front room while he takes a few steps, falls into my arms and then we roll around laughing at just how great the precious one is. I may have missed the first steps, but there are plenty more to enjoy. After all, he’s not going anywhere fast.