Slice of Life... Walking awayOur daughter never learned to crawl. She went right from sitting to walking. This wasn’t because of any special inborn talent on her part, although I’m sure we could have argued that at the time. No, our daughter’s walking feat was due to the fact that she had two first-time parents who knew virtually nothing about what to do with little babies.
By: Jill Pertler, Pine Journal
Our daughter never learned to crawl. She went right from sitting to walking. This wasn’t because of any special inborn talent on her part, although I’m sure we could have argued that at the time.
No, our daughter’s walking feat was due to the fact that she had two first-time parents who knew virtually nothing about what to do with little babies.
Our inexperience robbed her of the opportunity to crawl because we couldn’t bear to hear her cry. If she was sitting near the sofa and wanted to get to a toy across the room, she’d let out a little whimper.
Experienced and competent parents would have allowed her to deal with the situation – to figure it out, and eventually learn to crawl toward the desired object. We did nothing of the sort. We jumped at the slightest inkling of her unhappiness. We wrapped her pudgy hands around our index fingers, helped her stand and toddled behind her as she proudly crossed the room.
We did this all over the house. It became a game. She, with her hands above her head, holding onto our fingers; us walking behind her, providing balance and support. Before long, her grip loosened a bit. She dropped one arm and was able to walk while holding on to just one of our hands.
It was inevitable that this walking arrangement would be short-lived. Once she tasted the independence of having one arm free, she couldn’t wait to liberate the other.
She did, of course – on a completely normal evening. We were playing our walking game when she let go. I watched, feeling quite pleased as she kept toddling across the room and away.
In many respects, she’s been walking away ever since.
That’s the crux of parenthood. They walk away. And, although we delight in it – although we wouldn’t choose the alternative – the fact remains: They are walking away. There’s something terribly bittersweet about that.
My daughter let go of my index finger 16 years ago. In that time, she’s gone from toddling to walking to running to driving. The resiliency of youth has allowed her to thrive, despite her inexperienced parents. She recently got her driver’s license, and let me tell you, it was much easier to let her walk across the room than to watch her tool down the road with more than a hundred horsepower under her flip-flopped feet. Who would be there to catch her should she fall?
It isn’t about trust or confidence in her abilities. I have both. It’s more about how life starts out with baby steps and increases steadily until you are zooming down the freeway at 60 miles per hour. I wasn’t prepared to have it progress so quickly.
Back when we were toddling around the house, holding onto each other’s fingers, I could protect her from hard floors, sharp corners and the world at large. It’s hard to do that at 60 miles per hour.
Parenthood is bittersweet, but we can emphasize the sweet. Sixteen years ago, right after my daughter let go of my index finger and walked across the room for the first time, she turned around and teetered back toward me. She walked away; then she came back.
Our daughter never learned to crawl, but she is preparing to fly. Soon she will enter the big world to find her own life’s successes. We will do what we can to help her soar. And should she return back home – and I hope she does – we will be waiting, index fingers extended.
Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and award winning freelance writer working with graphic designer Nikki Willgohs to provide writing and design and other marketing services to businesses and individuals. You can check out their Web site at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/ or e-mail Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org.