Vail Novice Father: One small step …
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – My year-old daughter took her first steps … and I missed it. After weeks and weeks of practice – I held her hands as she walked around the kitchen – she finally took her first unassisted steps … at daycare of all places.
I walked inside her room at daycare to pick her up in the afternoon. And there she was: walking like it’s no big deal. “She’s been doing that all day,” said the teacher. “Does she do that at home?”
It took a little bit for me to close my jaw.
A kid’s first step is THE milestone. Life of a parent and child is pretty much summed up as this: get born, take first steps, move out of the house. Sure there’s plenty of other little milestones … heck you can make just about anything a milestone (baby’s first orange poop). But the king of the milestones is the first step.
And I missed it.
First steps beat out first words on the hierarchy of milestones. I’m not exactly sure why, but I suspect it has to do with the optimistic view of what’s to come: running and jumping, hopscotch and soccer, somersaults in the backyard grass. (That will be the first time in 20 years that I get to do somersaults in the backyard without feeling self-conscious). First words only means “NO!,” talking back, and teenaged sarcasm.
With this big milestone we’re supposed to have the video camera ready, both mom and dad cheering her on, and lots of clapping and hugs. Instead she just did it … at daycare.
When we got home from daycare, I took out the video camera anyway. It’s kind of like Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. The iconic video footage is not the actual first steps. After all, he had to get out of the Lunar Module to set up the video camera. But we forgive him for that.
So it’s not the actual first steps, but just like Armstrong’s walk, you get the basic idea. We’ve got video evidence of the Kid walking. And in the stiff and careful manner she does it you can kind of imagine her in a bulk spacesuit. At least she has a smile on her face.
Crawling is still the Kid’s fastest and most consistent mode of transportation. If she really wants to get somewhere, crawling is the answer. But she does enjoy walking. It’s that new challenge that keeps her entertained. She’s also discovered that by walking, her hands are free for carrying things like shoes, balls and dirty tissue paper. This is always a plus in her book.
By her constantly taking that challenge, in just a few days I’ve seen dramatic improvement in her walking. It’s amazing what a little practice will do. But by no means has she perfected it. Her legs are still stiff, though I’m seeing some bending of the knees. She’s able to save her balance better should she lean too far forward or backward.
She isn’t able to save her balance all the time. In any given stretch of walking she will land on her butt two or three times. It’s the kind of fall that would break an adult’s coccyx, but leaves her diapered bottom unfazed. She just picks herself up and keeps on trucking.
Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. E-mail comments or questions about this column to email@example.com.