motherhood,  Parenting

In her own good time

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.

evie doll

12 Comments

  • Maia

    its just wonderful and humbling that being a parent BOTH and mysteriously makes all the difference and none of the difference – our best efforts are so so needed and yet come with no guarantee of outcome. So we persevere. Love what you have said here.

  • Caroline

    Hi Jennie,

    My fourth kiddo, didn’t start walking till the day before she turned 18 mos. old, and she did it by getting out of those kiddie car grocery carts at Safeway, and walked and walked and walked till the cows came home. She had taken a random step or two for a couple months prior, but would just refuse to walk anywhere. She is also on the small side. Her doctor at her Fifteen months visit wanted to set her for physical therapy, but honestly, I think doctors go overboard sometimes. I never did any therapy with her, she just was taking her own time, and, wanted to cling to Mama…good way is by being carried everywhere. My mother’s advice? (She had eight) “Put her down and don’t carry her so much!” But that is hard to do when one gets tired of the crying and screaming…

  • Jen @ Into Your Will

    Thank you for sharing! My 10-month old is also super short and has started that hilarious butt scoot because he is just so.not.interested in crawling either. I keep reminding myself that he’s just different from his brother (who crawled at 6 months) and will probably be quite a late walker. But I have to admit I am very much enjoying his lack of mobility! Funny how God seems to give us the child we need at the exact time we need it.

  • Andrea

    Offering up an “amen” in solidarity, Jenny. Our youngest is 11 months and some change and is not at all thrilled with our attempts to speed up her mobility. Also in PT, now OT as well, originally for congenital torticollis, now for developmental mobility, low tone and possible sensory sensitivities, she rolls like nobody’s business, but isn’t quite ready to crawl. She’s close, so close, but ain’t havin no parts of our attempts to help her get there. While still early, I know, it appears we may be riding a similar wave of late mobility coupled with minor genetic issues that contribute to the issue. So glad to hear that your Evie babe is making strides! And congrats on the babe-on-the-way! I’ve JUST discovered that I’m expecting again as well. Oops! 🙂 Here’s to a whole new level of fatigue….sigh. 🙂

  • Cami

    I’ve seen Evie’s scoot and pommel horse routine is the perfect description! So the next time anyone questions her mobility, just let them know she’s a talented gymnast!

  • Michele

    Yay, Evie!!! Maria finally started walking at 21 months (after getting some orthopedic inserts and enrolling in a therapy program) and it is SUCH a relief when they finally take off. Oh, my goodness! You go, Evie!

  • Katie

    My little peanut didn’t walk until 18 months after rolling all over creation for ages, and then finally crawling for a few months. She finally walked on Halloween, when she figured out what trick or treating was all about.
    Now, she’s 4… smart and healthy but still on her own gross motor schedule. She’s in a gymnastics class at our park district but really struggles with a lot of the skills her classmates have mastered, including jumping. This morning during her class I watched her get a huge mat and move it herself to create a step stool because she couldn’t jump to reach the bar she was supposed to grab. Her coach rolled with it and I was so proud of my little problem solver who won’t let a gross motor delay slow her down! We’re also not totally sure of what is causing my girls delays… but I’ve reached a point where I don’t worry because she clearly has the personality to overcome!

  • Nancy

    My son, almost 22 months, has also been tentatively diagnosed with idiopathic short stature. We didn’t have go through all the poking and prodding that your girl did but we did the blood work, the hand scan, the pediatric endocrinologist. He’s a scrappy kid, and holds his own with his big sisters. Kids learn all kinds of coping mechanisms and strategies to compensate for their challenges. I agree with Caroline above, about doctors sometimes being overly cautious but I also think it’s important to trust your instincts and advocate for your kids.

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