When Emma was about nine months old she was looking like she was ready to start walking. She has seemed to be a child that is always interested in going, an active participant in life. My stepmother suggested that I give her two hard boiled eggs and that would give her the balance she needed to start walking. I was hesitant to do this because I didn't want to start down that long dark hallway towards pushing my child to succeed. I never want to be the parent that pressures her into performing in sports or academics. I don't want to start by pressuring her into walking before she's ready. I also didn't want to get my hopes that this magical moment would happen when I handed her these eggs and then have her just plop back on her bottom and start mouthing the eggshell. I hope that in life I can just open up experiences to her and allow her to decide whether or not she's ready or whether or not she wants to pursue them. I think some people percieved my hesitancy to give her the eggs as my desire to keep her a baby, that wasn't my desire at all, I really just want her to walk when she's ready and not when I think she should start.
When she hit a year old and still wasn't walking, I did start thinking about those eggs. She hit thirteen months this month and I really thought about hard boiling some eggs. Emma would get involved in examining some object and stand for several minutes without even realising what she was doing. I would offer the new push toy that she had been given for her birthday and sometimes she would push it and sometimes she would cry and drop back down on her bum and crawl away. I would take her by the hand and try to walk her down the hall rather than carrying her and depending on her mood she would turn and grip my pantlegs and I would give up and carry her.
I usually have chapstick in my pocket. Always. It's been a habit since, gosh, as long as I can remember. I have the most observant child in the world. In the past week every time she sees a chapstick she begs for it, tries to take the top of off it and put it on and then she tries to put it on me. Then she spends quite awhile ruminating on how to get the cap back on and off the lip balm. I have such mixed feelings watching her imitate a habit of mine. I love it, on one hand, because it means she is looking up to me and does want to do the things I do. On the other hand, some would argue, my attachment to lip balm isn't the best thing to emulate. So she will see all of me, flaws and perfections and might not chose the best parts of me to copy.
On Thursday Emma was examining the base of the lip balm and the cap and, tongue out in concentration, was trying to put the pieces back together. She was standing, and I was sitting a few feet away. She looked up at me and then took about five steps toward me. I was enthralled! She walked! She was able to forget her fear and actually walk. I cheered for her and scooped her up and smothered her sweet smooth cheeks in kisses. I felt a deep heart soaking satisfaction in watching her achieve such a big milestone. She giggled and squirmed and then didn't do it again all day.
Today she did the same, while holding her sippy cup and focusing on getting the cat she walked about five steps. She did it twice.
She needed to have that moment where she was so focused on what she wanted that she forgot her fear of falling and just took those steps. I couldn't force her to do it. I couldn't cajole her into doing it. All I could do was give her the space to do it in and then just let her do it in her own time. I didn't use hard boiled eggs, she choose chapstick instead.