The thing about having children is that they constantly keep you on your toes. I have now been at home looking after mine full time for nearly three months and I was just about getting the hang of it. We have a smooth routine established and everyone for the most part is happy. However, every now and again something happens that fundamentally changes the rules of the game. This week, I had not one but two such events. First Arun, and then Meri started to toddle.
Arun has been walking unsteadily with some assistance for some time – he has still needed a finger to hold onto and when coaxed has taken a few steps. However, he has not had the confidence or the trust in his own legs to go it alone. However, that all changed last week when Clare was putting him to bed. His hand slipped out of hers and instead of falling to the ground as he normally does, he checked his balance and toddled over to his cot. It was just few steps but significant because it was the first time he had initiated walking. Now he is off and although his balance is terrible, although he can only manage a few steps before having to grab at something he is unstoppable and wants to toddle at every opportunity.
A couple of days later, keen not to be left out, Meri started taking a few tiny little steps. She, unlike Arun has much less balance but she has a good deal more confidence and is progressing in leaps and bounds. Despite being two years younger than Arun, I fully expect her to be outpacing him very quickly. All of her instinctive abilities are present, whereas Arun has to work hard to learn every new skill.
My first reaction to these events was unbridled joy. Both of them think that toddling is the best thing ever and their faces are a picture of excitement and ecstasy as they move three yards forwards before collapsing onto their well padded posteriors. With Meri, there was never any doubt that she would walk but we knew that she would probably walk late (the younger siblings of disabled children often do). For Arun, we were never sure that he would toddle right up until the point that he did it.
My second reaction was smugness – A warm, self righteous omniscient smugness. My friends will tell you that I do smug well, but I have to say that in this case I have surpassed even my own very high standards. I have been saying since Meri was born that the two of them would learn to walk together. I have been confidently predicting that they would spur each other on and that sibling rivalry would ensure that as soon as one of them did it the other one would not just stand by and watch. It was a delight to be proved right on something so important.
However, my third reaction has been terror. I am just about keeping in control of my two little monsters through running a system that is built around the fact that they crawl and bottom shuffle. Now that they are both, at the same time making game changing progress is going to throw my finely balanced home life into complete chaos. I fully expect Clare to come home from the office one night and to find a very forlorn father stood atop the rubble of the house with nothing other than the words, “I just turned my back for a second…” as explanation.
All of which leads me to speculate that perhaps it wasn’t sibling rivalry that spurned them along. A bit of me thinks, even believes, that they have had it all planned out for some time…