Carrying your child around is a wonderful thing. You hold them aloft and point out the world around them. Yet soon enough they grow and quickly gain independence. Some little ones are sure-footed by a year old, while others like Tilly are content with the efficiency of bum-shuffling and only start to stand and take their first steps some months later. Movement has come gradually for Tilly and as parents we’re only now realising that the days of holding are now largely behind us.
It’s tempting to be nostalgic about the more dependent early stages of a child, but walking is a development that was well overdue. We had reached the point at 18 months old where I was the only one who could still hold Tilly for an extended period, gaining me the nickname ‘Hodor’, the child-carrying character from Game of Thrones. Although it’s always a joy to hold her at adult height, indulge in a hug or to spot animals or vehicles, it felt like time to move on. And so it seems did Tilly.
The past couple of months have seen a gradual change from being floor-based to climbing, cruising furniture, aided walking and finally walking independently. It’s an exciting time: for months we’ve seen Tilly’s peers overtake her in movement with her options for play and activities remaining limited. Although building confidence will take time, the key walking skills are established that puts her back on an equal footing (no pun intended) with others her age.
No longer does a trip to the playground involve the backbreaking work of carrying an increasingly heavy infant between and onto every ride. Off Tilly can potter, climb stairs onto rides and interact with other children all independently. That’s pretty special. When she does interact she can do so all the better as the time spent shuffling has seemingly be spent improving her communication skills, which now includes a hefty vocabulary, narrative skills, numbers and colours. Not bad at 20 months.
We therefore bid farewell to arms and to Hodor and although my arms may no longer benefit from the same exercise regime that they once did, I suspect many more calories will be expended running around after a fully fledged toddler.