Several friends and family have children who are younger than Maggie, ranging from six to nine months, and sometimes it seems like everyone’s ahead of her. Don’t get me wrong–this is fine with me. Come kindergarten, who will know or care who did what first? No, I must admit that I chuckle endlessly when I hear their stories of the babies crawling early, walking early, running headlong into toddlerhood with a nary a “See ya, suckers!” to be had. It makes me smile because I have given birth to a tree sloth.
Maggie, bless her snail-like heart, is a methodical little tot, and dislikes inconvenience and jolting. She can crawl now, after months of lead-up, and has been able to pull herself into a standing position for quite some time. But true to form, as she did with sitting up and crawling and feeding herself, I suspect she will not take a single step until she can balance perfectly and remain upright. The only reason I worry at all is because I am afraid she will take her first steps while Tom is away and I know that will break his heart.
It’s hilarious to watch her holding onto a chair or bar, because she won’t let go and plop to the ground if she sees something else interesting. She will ever so carefully bend her knees and extend her arm, going into a deep squat/bend with intense focus. Then, when her bottom is about one inch off the floor, she will let go of the bar and crawl off. The deliberate, controlled movements are just so Maggie–not an unconsidered motion nor an un-cautious leap to be had.
My sister and I were joking that we got each other’s child. I took steps at ten months and get wound up easily; Owen was standing up unassisted and walking by Maggie’s age and running full-tilt boogie, jacking child-locked cabinets and pounding off walls by the time he visited us at 15 months old. He is intense but good-natured and energetic.
My sister is absolutely unhurried; slow to anger and agitation and possessed of the same calm, considering control that I see in Maggie. She is good-natured too, but stoic and deliberate in her words and movements. Maggie is intense in her own way, but not with manic energy; she’s never been one to burst out in spontaneous belly laughs and can spend several minutes studying toys and objects that interest her without acknowledging anything else. But when Maggie is on the move, or lets loose with her stuttering and deep laugh, you know she means it. Maggie doesn’t waste energy.
Much as we joke, I really do think I got the right personality. Who better than a child to teach adults to slow down and appreciate the smaller things in life? And who better than a measured, focused observer to teach her fast-paced parents how to chill out? She moves the way she does because we need to learn just as much from her as she does from us. As I’ve said before, babyhood is so fleeting. I’m glad she’s allowing us a few more weeks to savor it before we have to lock down every piece of furniture below our waists.