We Don’t All Walk At The Same Time - Sam Stecher

In a previous blog I wrote about my son’s efforts at walking. Here we are four months later and the throttle on that kid’s motor is wide open. Once he got bipedal mobility figured out walking went by the wayside. In place was a constant forward leaning momentum with ever increasing speed.

He wants to get where he is going and isn't shy maximizing the velocity from point A to point B.

That being said the process to full fledged walking was not something which occurred with the same kind of rapid pace.  

When I Google “when do babies walk?” I get an answer of 9 to 12 months with some outliers at 14 to 15 months as well as an assurance that “Some perfectly normal children don't walk until they're 16 or 17 months old.” Sometimes I think they have a Google search algorithm specificly designed to provide answers which may both incite and alleviate potential panic based on of the inquires of parents.

Ezra was decidedly into the 13 month range before he had this particular skill on lockdown. Solidly in the tail end of the normal range.

Absolutely nothing to worry about.

But when you know that things could start to get real at 9 months every day has you on your toes about the kid being on his feet. Mostly this is out of excitement. That first step is, well, a big step.

Another thing is that other people have babies. They might be the same age as your baby. They might start walking before or after yours. Try as you might not to, you can’t help making comparisons. Even if you can avoid the comparison trap other people around seem to bring it up. And they are all experts based on the anecdotal research their experience with children has provided. They have also probably read a post on Facebook on this topic which they would be glad to tag you in.

What was also odd to me was that there was no bright line distinction between walking and not walking for what I was observing in my own child. I’m certain I was around for Ezra’s first step but I’m not sure which of the the things I witnessed was the legit first step. I can remember lots of standing up followed by a foot heading forward in a definite stepping motion with a quick return to the floor and a happy resumption of mobility via crawling. This happened all the time in varying degrees of increasing and decreasing proficiency.

First step? Just not sure.

He also shuffled along and lunged between furniture.

Walking? Sorta? I think?

There just wasn’t that movie moment with the clarity of those first steps.

But he sure has it figured out now.

And though this was no absurd and heart wrenching challenge I had to watch my son overcome I was still was happy with how I handled it.

I knew I was taking care of him. I knew his mom was doing an exceptional job of taking care of him. Even with the perils of Google searches and unavoidable comparisons both Elle and I just kept saying “We are doing the right things. He will figure out walking when he is supposed to.”

I’d like to see us adopt more of this attitude in education. We are so schedule and deadline driven that sometimes I think we operate on a schedule at the expense of what is best for the student. I realize that our school calendar and our school day works for most students and we need to accommodate the schedules of our parents as well as the long held cultural norms of the school experience. We also have standardized testing schedules to adhere to.

I’m not calling for a revolution and complete reform of how we schedule our services and expectations.

What I would like to do is advocate for more application of the perspective “He will figure out walking when he is supposed to.”

This is far from a laissez faire “when it happens, it happens” attitude. We cannot expect things to happen when they are supposed to unless we are doing what we are supposed to.

But if we are doing the right things in terms of instruction, accountability, and support for our children/students yet seeing they are not quite getting things on the prescribed schedule it doesn’t indicate failure on anybody’s part. Giving yourself and your children/students permission to let it happen at rate that is best for the child is what good parents/teachers do.

I know Ezra gets walking and made it happen when it was best for him.

I’m pretty sure I got things right in my role as Dad during that skill acquisition.

I hope I have the courage, wisdom, and patience to keep it up with the infinite number of things he’s continuing to learn. It’s my hope we can all make this happen more often for more kids.

If you’re not quite ready to make the philosophical jump to “He will figure out walking when he is supposed to” that’s O.K.

I’m willing to wait until you’re ready to walk as well.

You can read more of what Mark and Sam have to say in their book It Happens In The Hallway. Just click here.