Our sweet Evie doll is, at long last, taking independent steps on her own. And there was really nothing that we did, per se, that helped her.
Except, I suppose, dropping $2.99 on a Fisher Price ride along 3-wheeled giraffe at Saver’s last week, which she has appropriated as her own personal mobility device. Grasping one of it’s horns, she gingerly two steps around the house with her new plastic friend, occasionally breaking loose for 1-2 independent steps of her own before thudding on her diaper padded butt and looking around for raucous applause from her fan base.
Actually, she applauds rather enthusiastically for herself when she stands solo, which directly undermines her efforts about 80% of the time, landing her back on her booty. Great self esteem, that one.
She has been the most unpredictable baby for us, in terms of milestones, yes, but also how she reacts to certain situations. She’s very vocal about her displeasure when her brothers cross her. Which they do. Hourly. There is ample screaming mingled with heartbreakingly lovely reconciliation hugs and kisses. She’s a fierce little wolf cub, and we tell her daily how spicy she is. Which is probably encouraging her and gets us ejected from Mass at least 2-3 times per Sunday.
But I wouldn’t change a thing about her. She has taught me the most about how doing all the “ideal” parenting things: breastfeeding, sleep training from an early age, encouraging lots of independence and giving endless amounts of encouragement and affection, have so little to do with how the kid in question actually turns out.
I was prepared to nurse her for a year and beyond. She, however, went on a iron-willed nursing strike at 9 months which tanked my milk supply and left me humbled before the formula aisle.
I’ve dragged her to at least 2 dozen physical therapy appointments to address her “low muscle tone” and delayed gross motor milestones. She continued to eschew traditional crawling, right up until the ripe old age of 16 months, in favor of a bizarre butt scoot oddly reminiscence of a world-class pommel horse routine.
She has been poked and prodded by a cadre of specialists at our local children’s hospital who passed her from one department to another in search of the locus of her teeny stature and her staunch aversion to traditional mobility. All we have to show for that is a laundry list of copays, some x-rays of her perfectly healthy hip joints, and a vague diagnosis of “idiopathic short stature” which basically translates to “wtf, she’s super short. Come back in a year for more blood work.”
In sum? She is who she is, despite our best efforts and our greatest shortcomings.
And that’s true for all our kids, whether we want to admit it or not.
I mean sure, there’s plenty we can do in terms of effort. Ample opportunity for blood, sweat, and prayers. But at the end of the day I have been unsuccessful at coaxing my now 17-month old to walk. Her free will + innate ability trumped the force of my will and the sum of my best efforts.
I guess there’s probably an analogy in there somewhere about God’s grace and our willingness/disposition/ability to cooperate with it. Not that Evie’s reluctance to pursue traditional mobility is comparable to sin, but just that parenthood, at least on a human level, is often fraught with brick walls of frustration resultant from a little person with a mind – and motivations – all her own.