Sunday, April 26, 2009

Five steps into danger

It's been a while since we've known that Sonny was capable of stringing together a few unsteady steps (click here for a relevant earlier post). But it was only yesterday that some switch was thrown and the little fella began walking on the wild side in earnest.

Suddenly, he can't get enough of flinging himself on his parents - upright. With a bit of help, he'll get into a stable starting position, then toddle rapidly for five or six steps into an adult's waiting arms. He'll cackle delightedly, clearly luxuriating in the triumph (and his parents' claps) before promptly preparing for a further effort. The problem was that for every two well-executed walk-throughs, there will be one or two spills, near-falls and football-star-style dives. Clearly, a dangerous era has dawned, with an increased chance of harmful collisions or painful injuries.

So what are we to do? On the one hand, we obviously want to encourage the little fella's advance into ambulation. He's a year old now and shouldn't be held back from new adventures, among which toddling about is a key one. At the same time, Sonny's strolling skills are extremely basic, yet he is launching himself into high-risk activities. Instead of confining himself into carefully negotiating a path right next to a quick-grab wall or bannister, he scuttles forth without caring for what might happen if he loses his balance. And instead of advancing at a sedate rate, ready to trim and adjust, he blazes along as though in danger of missing the Number 106 Bus.

At the end of the day, this is a false dilemma. There's actually very little we can do to retard Sonny's walkabouts, since he's not even with us for half his waking day and is terribly good at seizing any stray unsupervised moment to practise some forbidden sport. We can of course move away dangerous obstacles, check for sharp corners to blunt with babyproofing gear and keep the little fella under observation as much as possible. Beyond that, though, we'll just have to steel ourselves for the occasional typhoon of crying from a nasty trip - and tell ourselves that the little fella will quickly master the art of walking. He'll be sashaying along soon as though born to it, we might tell ourselves again and again.

At the moment though, as he blunders his way along with a fey laugh and far too much unearned confidence, that seems a long time away.