When it comes to hitting milestones, the Rascal likes to take his time doing new things. He just can’t be rushed. Even for crawling, which I really really didn’t want him to skip. I’ve tried to leave him to progress at his own pace, but the thought of having to walk around for weeks providing assistance for him to get to where he wanted to go until he could walk himself wasn’t appealing. There are also a lot of mixed opinions about whether skipping that stage has an impact on the overall development of a baby. Still, there’s no point in agonising over how one baby compares to another, they all do things their own way. So I watched for months as he sat there, patiently observing everything around him, while other babies were flying around on their hands and knees. I gave him tummy time (not popular with him!), and helped him brace his legs when he wanted to try and move. He began to do push ups which was quite impressive. Many adults can’t do them. He was now getting visibly frustrated at his inability to move towards something he wanted. Little by little he got closer to the point where one day he finally took off across the room on a mission to rob a bottle of water. A bottle of water? Yep, of all the everyday objects, babies are drawn to bottles of water like moths to a flame. Something about the sunlight reflecting off the water makes them the most attractive object in any room. Even the Rascal couldn’t resist the seductive call indefinitely. Crawling achievement unlocked!
For the next 3 months he was more than content with this mode of transport. It got him everywhere he wanted to go. He pulled himself up to his feet and would hold on to things constantly, but calling him to see if he’d walk a couple of steps towards you always resulted in a smirk, then he’d drop to his knees and crawl over, laughing to himself. What kind of fool would try and walk when they could just crawl? This suited me fine. He was already very mobile and getting into enough trouble without adding walking into the mix. He’d slowly crawl across a room, lulling me into a false sense of security. Then I’d turn my back for a couple of seconds and find him in a completely unexpected location, his hands reaching for something forbidden. Obviously his ability to speed crawl was being saved up for the most opportune moments.
He slowly got more adept at standing (and bouncing) on his feet. He practised squats daily in his playpen with a look of intense determination. He let go and stood without any support for longer periods without falling over. We could see him getting closer to taking steps every day. His first birthday came and went without him showing much interest in actually walking anywhere, though it was clear that he was physically capable. Still he was waited and steadily improved his balance. In the meantime there were lots of other new skills to master. He suddenly changed his mind about the merits of walking over the Christmas break for no obvious reason. It was a highlight of the holidays for us, despite the associated sleep regression that accompanied it.
Between Christmas and the end of 2013, he finally started practising his first, wobbly steps. He enlisted any and all relatives to hold his hands as he lazily ran around the house, leaning so far forwards that he was going to face plant immediately if his support person let go. He was constantly on the move, getting to his feet, launching himself in another direction. He seemed to think there would always be a guardian angel waiting to catch him on every kamikaze dive. Needless to say, there wasn’t. There were a lot of bumps and tumbles. Some planned, others not so much, resulting in tears. However all his months of training up until now paid dividends, as it was only a very short week before he was ambling around completely by himself. He walks like a very drunk old man that falls over if he doesn’t concentrate fully on putting one foot in front of the other. But like all fools and drunks, he tends to do little damage to anything other than his dignity when he takes a spill. He’s been totally delighted with himself, staggering around, shrieking encouragement to himself. In addition to moving dangerous objects up to another higher level in the house, I now have to be prepared at any time to be rugby tackled from behind with no warning. My days just got that bit more complicated.