. February 4, 2013.

The moment of truth came sooner than I expected.
I was always under the impression that babies learned to crawl before they walked. For some reason, neither baby Dee’s mom nor her uncle crawled. They went straight to walking. 
I was confident that my own genetic influence would counteract that tendency. I was, like Dee, a big baby, one who as my mother recalls, took a while to walk because I had so much to pick up off the floor.
Our friends’ baby girl, a few months older than Dee, learned to stand and then stood in place for what seemed like a long while before she started to try to take steps. She practiced standing up, sitting down, and generally seemed to have thought through the issue before she decided to embark on her first walking efforts.
Not so with baby Dee. Crawling was omitted completely from the routine—my fault, perhaps, for having hardwood floors instead of carpet? And as soon as baby Dee was standing, she was off.
We started things out somewhat slow. Mom and Dad would sit a few feet apart on a rug in the living room, and Baby Dee would run from one to the other. Stagger, to be more precise.  At the moment she neared her destination parent, she would dive enthusiastically into a lap or outstretched arms.
New adventures
Within a few weeks, she decided to strike out on her own. And I have never been as worried as I am now about whether I should have consulted a cardiologist before embarking on parenthood.
With every step, Dee finds a new adventure or item of exploration. That heating duct seems intriguing. The door handle turns! And that laptop computer on the desk has so many fun keys to press. 
But since she started walking before developing much of an exit strategy, her strolls tend to end with a “bump bump” onto the ground. Sometimes these wipeouts would make an Olympic skier feel safe and secure; other times they are more modest, slow motion falls. With each one, I’m already plotting how long it will take me to get her to the ER or what additional padding I could add to further baby-proof our home.
Careful companion
To mitigate the damage done, I spent weeks walking around with her, holding her hand so that I could catch her as she falls. As she decided her hands were useful in continuing forward momentum or gripping objects that seem way too heavy for a baby to lift, I was forced into alternative tactics, such as clasping the hood on hersweatshirt to catch the most serious falls. I urged caution, looking in the direction one is walking, and trying to walk over or around obstacles instead of through them.  Eventually, on carpeted and padded surfaces or the soft autumn earth, I had to let go.
Every time she teeters to one side or the other, I feel something distressing in my chest. She is actually far more stable than I give her credit for. She can right herself from a fall with an outstretched arm, or even balance on a single leg.
Her abdominal muscles are strong enough to make a Pilates instructor jealous and she uses them for contortionist self-rescue efforts.
Learning to walk is no doubt a
challenge. But learning to watch may be even harder!