Maybe it happened in the first few weeks of December, when it felt like I was working crazy long hours and barely home to see my little ones during the week, or maybe it was a Christmas surprise, launched just in time for exposure to the maximum and most appreciative audience of parents, siblings, grandparents and auntie, but our little Pip Squeak has taken a leap forward with his walking.
He’d been getting better and better at pottering around the house but this was the push from walking and crawling into full on walking 90% of the time. I noticed in the first week of the Christmas holidays how if he tripped he wouldn’t finish the journey off on his knees but stopped, raised his little bottom into the air and ever so slowly pushed up off his hands until he was upright, and then set off again in pursuit of the open stair gate, his sister’s artwork, my phone, or whatever other contraband had sparked his fancy.
He’s still got that proper toddler walk, legs out for balance and then picked up at the knees; John Wayne meets Thunderbirds, and it’s so much fun to see him potter down the hall, or wander over to graps me around the legs and shout “cuddles” at my kneecaps.
My mother always used to say that I was late walking (about 18 months apparently) but once I was up I was off, and while I don’t think that Pip has started walking late (he’s about the same as the girls, give or take a week), I do get that same sense of “up and off” from him, because apparently just wandering around the house doesn’t cut it.
We went out on a couple of expeditions while my Dad was staying with us, first to the park and then the next day for a circuit of the gardens at Upton House, to take the girls to ride their scooters and then just for some fresh air. We’d barely got through the gate of the park before Pip, usually so happy in his vantage point tucked up in the sling, started squeaking to get down in no uncertain terms. And so I got him out.
And as the girls raced on to play in the sensory garden, he held onto my hand and onto Grandpa’s hand, and we walked very gently after them.
It was picture perfect sweet; the little toddling boy, holding on as he went for his first little walk in the park, but Pip had other and bigger and better ideas. He wanted to chase after Kitty and Elma, and try to run off with Elma’s scooter, pushing it backwards like a pram; he wanted to feed the ducks, even if all we could find were some rather reluctant geese who didn’t seem that interested in catching the crumbs from a little boy’s slightly wayward throw, and most of all, he most absolutely definitely did not want to hold hands unless he wanted to.
It was the same at Upton; as Dad and I gently walked him down the grassy slope; first he’d let go of my hand and shake it off and then he’s use that hand to firmly and most insistently peel away each one of Grandpa’s fingers from his, and then he was off.
Waddling as fast as two little snowsuited legs could carry him across the lawns at Upton to reach Grandpa’s open arms, or pottering along the forest path, quite certain that he could distract us by smiling up at us beautifically so that we wouldn’t notice him making a beeline for the edge of the path to pick up a handful of gravel.
We paused to read a sign at the bottom of the path and before we knew it he was off and climbing up a little flight of steps by the side of us, only to insist on being brought back down to do it all over again because it was so much fun.
It seems that my little indoor walking boy is also very much an outdoor walking boy. I remember the moment with Kitty particularly when we first went out without sling or buggy. Mainly because we’d forgotten either and couldn’t be bothered to go back for them so we thought we’d see how we went and she walked all the way around town without complaint, and it is a watershed moment. I’m not saying we’ll abandon either or all for some time to come, there’s definitely a coralling of small children benefit when you’re outnumbered, but the days of two walking and one snuggling down in the sling when we go for a walk, at best are numbered.
And it feels as though it’s happening sooner with Pip than with the girls, though I can’t honestly remember well enough to be certain. Perhaps it’s simply that as my third child he still seems so much more a baby to me than either Kitty or Elma did at a similar age, despite being much bigger!
But one thing is certain, whether he be my baby or my little boy, it’s the start of a year ready to be filled with adventures.
joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments