My clever little companion is walking!
It happened the other day in the garden when Snooks’ friend took the opportunity for a go on his beloved Ride On.
Snooks was on his feet in seconds and took two steps towards the vehicle, a rather snazzy VW kombi in sixties psychedelic orange and turquoise, to ensure it stayed put.
These were his first actual free steps but he did not walk again for a few days. Instead he took to a kind of Mowgli -like crawl, on hands and feet instead of knees. The Engineer noticed that he didn’t like the feel of grass and so we reasoned that his new modus ambulandi was to avoid knee-to-lawn contact. Therefore, it followed, this might be the place he would walk.
However many hours of kicking a football around the lawn later, with Snooks happily perched on the picnic rug like a season ticket holder in the Kop (we may live in London and I may be from Manchester but family tradition dictates that a Liverpool fan he will be) it became clear that this was the very place he would not walk. Tickly cold grass on warm feet? No thanks.
And so it was a couple of days later that I turned around to notice he had crossed the room but without the familiar plod plod plod plod of his komodo dragon-like hand and knee progress. He stood, hanging on to the ‘baby-proofing’ the Engineer erected around the hifi months ago – to protect the equipment, note, not the child – beaming with surprise.
His excitement and joy at the new discovery is catching. He is delighted with himself and after a particularly long stretch down the hallway, he wobbles into the lounge, hands above his head like a London Marathon runner crossing the finish line to our cheers and applause.
I am delighted too. It is wonderful to see him try something new and master it and to see the world of new possibilities open up before him. Suddenly his interest is at a new level, literally and he wants to know the names for all the things which are now in his line of vision – the plant, the fridge, the washing machine, the ball. Oh no, the ball.
His love of footballs knows no bounds and when we are confined indoors by the rain, he stands at the patio doors gazing longingly at the ‘outdoor’ football, occasionally banging on the window and pointing. The ‘indoor’ football, a softer smaller version with a nice dingly bell, will keep him going for so long. He particularly likes it when he is in goal – standing (or more usually sitting to be honest) with his back to the front door – while I take penalty kick after penalty kick. The aforementioned long hallway lends itself nicely to this activity as the ball rebounds off the hallway walls and so always meets its mark.
More prosaically, I am delighted to see him raised up from ground level for another reason. I have always tried to keep a sensible head about hygiene, knowing attempts to keep his hands or clothes clean would be a bar to any sort of spontaneous fun. But I could not help wince watching him crawl around the playground where the warning about the rat problem is posted on the gate. And each night as I examined the new crop of bruises on his little knees from the day’s activities on concrete and hard wood floors, I willed this day to arrive.
I have been warned against this by other parents, more experienced parents of older children, this wishing away the present and willing of change to come.
The Engineer, himself a father of two much older children, is especially hot on this; that each stage is precious and will never come back once it has gone.
He once remarked that once Snooks walked, the days of our little plodding komodo dragon would be numbered.
Sure enough, the first day after his debut as a biped Snooks was desperate to give it another go and so cutting short the usual morning snookle in bed, he wriggled out of my arms onto the floor to see if it still worked. It did. I am happy for him.