We all have weak areas in our parenting. Or is that just me?
One of mine and Chris’ weaknesses is regarding the passing on of the skill of walking.
We’re not exactly risk-takers. We avoid pain, discomfort, and inconvenience more vigorously than Lady Gaga avoids modesty and inconspicuousness.
And our children can sense this. And they translate it as fear.
When we talk, they hear things like,
“Come on – you can walk!! Try it! but don’t really because you’ll fall and bust your head and bleed all over yourself.”
And so, our punishment for our low-risk outlook, aside from making about 20 cents of interest in our bank accounts every year, is that we have seen both of our children’s first steps, but only on video.
Four years ago, I got nastily sick for a couple of days. Ali went to stay with my parents, and my Dad had a talk with her…because she was sixteen months old and refused to even stand without holding onto something, and he was determined to free her from her genetic predisposition to fear the unknown.
So. The talk.
“Ali, you’re a big girl. You need to be walking. Your best friend AJ walks, and you need to walk.”
She got an angry look on her face – after all, no one likes coming face to face with logic – and then walked across the room, completely unassisted.
By the time I was well enough to resume my responsibilities of motherhood, I had not only missed her first steps, but her first hundred or so steps – she was practically running when she came home.
(Granted, when you wait until you’re sixteen months old to walk, the whole ramp-up thing is nonexistent.)
Four years later, we have another cautious, OCD child. Fourteen months old, and Noah refuses to walk.
Just this week, he finally started showing off and standing unassisted, all with an overishly proud (and a little scared) look on his face. I always cheer loudly, and so he quickly learned to use this oh-so-impressive standing ability to get my approval.
He just had two teeth cut through, which are apparently making his gums quite uncomfortable. In an attempt to treat his own ailment, he crawled over to my chair, pulled up, and bit my leg like it was a fabulously juicy turkey thigh.
Shocked, I looked at him in dismay and lectured him on the evils of biting one’s mother.
He looked down in shame. Then looked up, with a bright lightbulb hovering above his head. He let go of the chair, standing without aid, and looked expectantly for my approval. Which I gave, and all was right in the world again – except for the teeth marks on my leg.
Anyway, so walking. His standing only lasted for a couple of seconds at a time, so steps were completely out of the question – he wouldn’t even consider such a thing.
Until he went to my parent’s to spend the night.
(I bet you can guess what happens here…)
My Mom had a talk with him.
“You just need to walk! Ali walks, and you need to walk!! You can do it!”
And…the kid started walking.
Clearly, my parents are child-training geniuses. So I’ve already put my request in for their next visit: Wipe-Your-Own-Butt Boot Camp.