A year ago I wrote about Just You Waits, those parents who answer any comment you make about your current difficulties by saying â€˜just you waitâ€™ and referencing some other, greater trial down the road.
Youâ€™d think writing this was a risky gambit. I was effectively calling out friends, family and acquaintances in a national newspaper column that they all (say they) read. What youâ€™re missing is that the mind is extremely adept at self-delusion and not one of the Just You Waits I was thinking of recognised themselves in that piece. Theyâ€™d all read it, of course, and most thought it was just priceless. One old work pal texted to say he knew exactly the kind of person I meant, not realising I was literally picturing his own tilted, smirking face while writing the thing. (Later he was telling me not to worry about sleep training, because teething would be the real nightmare.)
Worse still, it did affect my entirely innocent and well-meaning friends, who now treaded carefully when giving any advice. Amidst all this, by far the most common thing which everyone crossed the Just You Wait barrier to warn us about, was walking.
Our son doesnâ€™t walk yet. We do want him to, of course, but weâ€™re aware that it will kick off a whole new suite of problems. As in the build-up to school trips to the Ulster American Folk Park, I once again have that odd sense of looking forward to something which I know will probably not be very enjoyable. Our house certainly isnâ€™t ready for it, since it consists almost entirely of uneven surfaces and an infinity of things an uncertain, 2ft ambler might catch themselves on. Despite being roughly the size of a spice rack, our flat has three separate sets of stairs. Handily, each has a different width of opening, meaning no one brand of stair gate works for all, something we found out the expensive way. The boy takes a joy from climbing the stairs on hands and knees, but the thought of him doing so on his porky little legs fills me with fear.
But, if Iâ€™m not looking forward to it then neither is my son. Heâ€™s not frustrated by his inability to stand on two feet, so much as bewildered that weâ€™re even recommending it. We were hoping heâ€™d just slowly get the handle on it himself and were happy when he started cruising from surface to surface, but heâ€™s been doing that for a month now, with no sign of graduating to the full shebang. Heâ€™s getting around just fine crawling and appears to view walking the way I look at people who put sliced cucumber in water.
Weâ€™re also hoping to ride out this last moment of babyhood. We were told to wait and now find we donâ€™t want that wait to stop, to avert the one last giant leap in maturity that will mean our small round baby has finally, inarguably, become a small, round toddler. Weâ€™ll get used to it, I guess, but one step at a time.
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