Guess what KayTar did this weekend?
These are our first outings in which she "walkered". Yesterday morning we had a playdate at the park with one of her "friends". She had a blast crawling around in the dirt, but when it came time to walk to the duck pond, I pulled the walker out of the car. I had a moment of doubt, "Should I really get the walker out? Its such a short distance." but I think I was probably feeling a bit of the "Everyone will be looking at her." too. But it lasted only a moment and off she walkered! Honestly, I don't know if anyone did stare, because I was soaring with pride. Even when the walker would get stuck in a crevice, or when it veered (as it has a habit of doing) she stuck it out, she didn't get down to crawl once! Once we reached the end of the sidewalk, she crawled off into the grass to chase the birds, but she did it!
Today we took it to the mall, the pictures above are from Bass Pro Shop while Josh shopped. The girl can multi-task, can't she? Walkering AND drinking. Impressive. I think we need to install a cup holder on the walker. :) I was a bit more secure in our walker-dom today, and while we strolled around the store (slowly, oh so very, very slowly...I saw a pack of sea turtle pass us by) I looked up at met curious gazes. Most people smiled at me or winked at her. One little boy, roughly 3 years old, passed by and pointed to KayTar and said "Baby." and she pointed back and said "Bay. Ee." It was so nice to be able to get her out of the stroller and move around on her own. Later, when we were actually out in the mall corridor, we let her walker again. I didn't snap any pictures, because let's face it, a beautiful tiny child with a red walker moving at the rate of a snail is enough of a distraction to people without adding the flashing camera of the Mama-razzi. I did see lots of kind-eyed strangers out in the hallways, and a little boy said to his mother, "Look, I think she's learning to walk!" and pointed our way. We did turn quite a few heads, but let's face it, she's adorable! Who could resist checking her out with her spiffy new wheels? It was a good experience. I've learned two things:
1. The walker veers TERRIBLY to the left, and although KayTar does a magnificient job of adjusting it, it frustrates her to no end. If it wasn't for the veering, she might be keeping up with us at an almost normal pace.
2. She is easily distracted, and would for go following us in a straight line through the mall, to go gaze at a pretty red sign or check out the nearest trash receptacle. She was exercising her legs AND her free will today. :)
But we did it. We took her out with it and we let her experience the world on her own two feet. And I could not be more proud of her.
We are navigating in a world of the unfamiliar, and days like today reinforce that. There will be times people will ask me "What's the matter with her?" or children who aren't as kind as the little boy I overheard today. There will be eyes that are not so kind, and people who cannot see the beautiful girl because they are blinded by her walker. We will experience those moments, too. I'm still not quite sure how we'll handle them. I like to think we'll handle them with our heads held high and a smile on our faces. I like to think we'll have the right answer for the questions we are asked, both kind and not so kind. I like to think that I'll have the right respond for the people who say things that are unkind, especially as she begins to understand more. But until it happens, I'm not sure. But I do know that we will still be out there, walkering with pride, hopefully teaching people by our presence that it is okay to be different. There is a post related to this over at Christy's that I think is simply wonderful. I don't think it is wonderful because she happened to quote me ;); I think it is wonderful because Christy is a beautiful writer and she was able to encapsulate the feelings that you experience when navigating in this different world so perfectly.
I'd love to hear perspectives on this, whether you parent one of these special kiddos or not. What are the right responses in these situations? Is there a right response? If you have been through this, how do you handle these things? Please don't limit it to these questions, I'd love to hear any thoughts on the subject.