I learned that statistic in a dorm corridor, from someone preparing for an exam in child psychology. It was more like ba-bies-walk-at-thir-teen-months, intoned over and over in a list of must knows for the following day as the seeker of wisdom walked up and down the corridor, intoning the facts. Every time she passed our door she seemed to be on ba-bies-walk.
When I was a young mother with a baby we lived in a third floor walk up. The grocery store was two blocks away, easily managed via baby stroller. Carrying the groceries upstairs, not so easy. Up three flights, baby on one hip and groceries on the other. Two bags meant back down with the baby and back up with two arms full. And, a final trip to retrieve the stroller.
Months into the childhood of my oldest daughter, who grew heavier each week, the refrain I’d learned in the dorm hall flashed into my mind. I swore we would not leave that building until she walked the stairs once.
When Beth was seven months old I put her down for a rest on the first landing. She crawled to the step and was up the flights before I could hoist the grocery bag. We went back for the second bag and she crawled up all three flights, squealing with delight. She didn’t learn to walk until fourteen months, and we didn’t live in that walk up any more, but it didn’t much matter. She crawled up three flights like a trouper the months until we moved.
Baby walked at fourteen months
I don’t know how universal this may be, but it happened to me. My first child was so easy I thought all babies would be that way. My second child resembled my first in two respects only. She was a baby and she was a girl. End of resemblance. Just to make sure I knew it, she had gold hair, not black. Shelly did everything way ahead of Beth. Like drink from a cup at six months. That was because she could disassemble a bottle and pour out the milk.
In the kitchen one day she stood up and took off. She was not yet nine months, but she had been standing for some time. Standing in place, bouncing up and down a little. Then she took off. Not that rolling cartoon character first steps walk. No, she had her destination firmly in mind and off she went. Our doctor watched her with amusement. “Those little ones with a low center of gravity do that, you know,” as she perambulated the office.
Not all babies walk at thirteen months! And I am the first to tell you, babies who walk at nine months don’t know the meaning of the word “No.” I couldn’t take my eye off her. A couple of months older, faster, more single minded, I found her crying in the kitchen, having dropped a big can of grapefruit juice liberated from the cupboard onto her big toe. Rushed to the doctor for examination of the blue and purple toe, Shelly watched with interest as the doctor tugged her little toe and asked “Does this toe hurt?” “No.” He tugged the next toe and had the same answer. And the next one. And the next one. As his fingers approached the obviously suffering toe her first sentence rang through the room and brought shouts of laughter from the waiting room. “DON’T TOUCH THAT TOE!”
Baby walked at nine months