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Saturday
Apr092011

SIT DOWN YOU'RE ROCKING THE BOAT: YOUR BABY'S FIRST STEPS AND WHY YOU SHOULDN'T BE IN SUCH A RUSH OVER IT

When my wife took my daughter in for her yearly check-up, her first, I figured it wouldn't be such a big deal. I knew there were shots involved, and the weigh-in, and a basic check of motor skills, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to hear my daughter needed an occupational therapist. For what? Because she doesn't "cruise" like the rest of her friends, or run around terrorizing my helpless dogs? Should I be upset that I haven't had to turn my kitchen into Fort Knox, or lock down the living room? Hell no! If my daughter isn't ready to walk at one year of age, I'm not rushing to make it happen any sooner than she wants to. I'm rejoicing in her choice to sit on her butt and con me into getting her every little thing her screaming heart desires. Walking is the turning point every parent should dread. If your kid can walk, you'd better be running, that's all I have to say. Everything in your house, your garden, your bathroom, the room where you keep your samurai sword collection is a hazard, and your fumbling kid, on her wobbly knees, is going to get her grubby little hands on it or stuck in it when you're not looking. Gee, that sounds like fun.

Now, I'm not against progress. My daughter is actually freakishly advanced for her age in many other ways. At the age of one she has a vocabulary of 10 to 15 words; mostly food related. She can hold up her index finger when you ask her how old she is, and she mouths along with you as you sing to her. She has mastered the Tiny Tike bike, both forward and backwards, and she can mimic most words you try to get her to say. But, she's lazy. She's in no rush to go anywhere, and if she is, crawling is her preferred option. She's doing things in her own time, on her own schedule, and I'm supportive of that. It's not like she's going to need to walk to school anytime soon, or ever considering how paranoid parents are these days. It's not like she's going to need her legs for gym class or after school programmes- they've all been cancelled. Ninety-percent of her life will be spent either on her butt in a school classroom, or in front of a computer, or television, or behind the wheel of a car, or in some dark cubicle. But, I'd like to give her the option of walking. She's just not ready for it yet - SO WHY ARE WE FORCING HER!!!

I know the pediatrician was only doing her job, and milestones are important, but according to "What to Expect When You're Expecting: The First Year," I'm not supposed to worry about this until my daughter's at least fifteen months, and since she only started crawling the week before her first birthday, I don't think she's in a rush. She stands holding onto things (mostly my pant legs). She looks at things on tables that are out of her grasp and thinks about standing to reach them, but she stops herself. Why? Because she doesn't want it that badly! Let all her friend's stand, and cruise and walk and run and crash into sharp things and things with no give. I'm happy for them and their parents who don't get a moment's peace from sun up til sundown. I'm not worried. My daughter knows how old she is, and she can tell you where her nose is, and even sing along to Justin Beiber. She just doesn't want to walk on your stupid schedule... and when she does walk, it's not going to be because I coaxed her, or forced her, or even followed all the suggestions given to me by occupational therapists or well-meaning friends or family members, it's going to be because she wants something and walking will be the only way to get it. That's how it worked for Homo Erectus in the early days, and that's how things still get done today.

To walk or not to walk, that is the question? Only time will tell. But don't tell me my daughter needs an occupational therapist at one year of age, unless you want me to teach her to show you how old she is with her middle finger. All good things in time, and my daughter still has plenty of it. So there!

I told her.

 

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Reader Comments (3)

Well-written article. The "progress" you speak of is just a microcosm of everything privileged westerners complain about on Oprah, Dr. Oz and every other public therapy show. Eating disorders, low self-esteem, homosexuality and peanut allergies... it all stems from this hysterical, over-competitive hyper-awareness, and the pressure to uncover every childs "G-spot" of potential, and unleash the grandeur. It's mass hysteria. The kid might be a genius, might be intellectually challenged, or most likely a little bit of both some days (Can I get a Wha?). We all know at least one "A student" who is the social equivalent of Rain Man. Love your kids and make them feel secure, and they will be successful.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMikey B

Couldn't have said it any better... But the dream of taking my daughter to Vegas and letting her count cards for a financial winfall, although still many years off (until they'll legally let her on the other side of the velvet rope) is alive and well. It's every father's dream, really. Well, that and instant stardom (Dakota Fanning, not Linsey Lohan).

Ya. I may have missed your point...

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Dolgin

I absolutely LOVE your writing! Definitely gave me a laugh!

I think her doctor was a little too proactive! Many parents would have gone off the deep end and gotten so stressed at a therapy recommendation at a year old (unless of course they were seeing more). Since this was posted a couple of months ago, she may now be walking and terrorizing everything and everyone in her path!
She's lucky to have a dad like you that delights in every moment!
Love Mikey's statement of loving your child and making them feel secure and they will be successful!

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