My Parenting Perspectives column for May 25 …
My daughter, Eve, and I went for a walk last week on one of those cloudless, warm mornings that finally felt like spring.
It was a lot different than the walks we took at this time last year, mainly because Eve wasn’t walking then. I would strap her in a stroller and we’d cruise our way down Fargo’s Old Milwaukee bike trail and back up 25th Street South. The three-mile loop took about an hour.
Now 2, Eve walks beside me on the bike path, pushing her baby doll in a pink play stroller.
On this particular trip, she’d placed five foam balls in the stroller’s bottom basket. I don’t know why. I tried putting her container of sidewalk chalk in the basket, too. She informed me I would have to carry that.
We started on our walk.
About 45 minutes later, we’d traveled two blocks.
Eve stopped every few steps to take her doll out, rock it and re-wrap its blanket – one of her old burp cloths. She would move the balls to the seat of the stroller and lay her baby in the basket, then rearrange it again. She stopped to stare at the neighbor’s basset hound bellowing behind a chain-link fence. She picked dandelions. I showed her how to blow the white fuzz off those that had gone to seed.
A pony-tailed runner in blue shorts – logging her final marathon training miles, I imagined – passed us. When she looped back and met us about 20 minutes later, I think we’d gone another 30 feet.
Unlike the runner, I wasn’t getting a workout that morning. But I’ve realized walks with Eve aren’t about that now.
They’re an opportunity for her to be independent, to take the lead.
Eve’s at the stage where she wants to do everything herself. And this is the part of my parenthood where, when possible, I need to let her.
So before our leisurely stroll, I let her put her shoes on herself. It’s almost painful to wait as she struggles with the little pink Crocs. I just want to slip my finger behind the strap and pull it over her heel myself.
When our snail’s pace finally got us to the playground, I watched her climb up the steps to the slide, standing close by but again keeping my hands to myself. (It’s easier when you wring them frantically.)
Our walk back home was considerably faster. Eve had had enough of the play stroller. I stooped over to push it with one hand and held her tiny fingers in the other.
“I had fun on walk,” she told me when we got to our driveway, just in time for lunch.
I smiled. I’d had fun, too.
Raising an independent toddler: Sometimes it can be a walk in the park.
Sherri Richards is mother of a 2-year-old daughter and is an employee of The Forum. She’s also “Top Mom” at http://moms.inforum.com.