First time in an open space with her walker.
When my daughter Quinn was 4 months old she began therapy. Vision, OT, Speech and PT. It was a whirlwind of people in and our of our house. Something like 5 or 7 appointments a week? Include those with my son’s therapy appointments (outside of the home) and doctor appointments to manage failing kidneys and vision issues and we were a mess of appointments.
I know it seems a little early for therapy to start, but our son, who was just over 2 1/2 when she was born, had multiple issues and she had the same diagnosis and was considered “high risk” by the team. She didn’t sit up until 8 months and pull up to stand until 13 months. When she was 14 months old it was time to discuss using a walker. When her physical therapist Karen mentioned it to me she also said a lot of parents resist the idea because it was a huge outward sign that something was “wrong” but she also felt it would help her connect with her peers, explore more (she was prone to just sitting there and letting people bring things to her) and that it was time.
I was all for it and after Quinn’s initial hatred of the walker she learned about it’s freedom and she never looked back. The first time she really had to use it and explore was during a birthday celebration for (grandfather) Pop, which was held in a fellowship hall of a small church. Once she came in and people got over their pity of seeing the poor crippled child (it was palpable) all they saw was a happy girl exploring her world. She was moving too fast to stop, weaving in and out of people like she’d never had the chance to do.
Kids were especially interested in the Girl on The Walker and could not keep their hands off. My girl didn’t mind it much except when they impeded her movement. She didn’t mind them hanging on, pushing, or touching it as long as she could be in motion. On times too numerous to count, I had to explain to kids (and a few adults) to give her room, to let go of the bars, release her.
I had to tell them that those were her legs. They were her way to see the world, stand up right, that they were her way to grow and connect with others just like her, just like them, the kids I was talking to and yet, some kids didn’t get it because it was shiny and different. In many cases she enjoyed the attention it gave her and she welcomed kids to hang on to the back bar.
On a rare occasion, a mother would get mad because I was asking their kid (over and over) to let go of the walker because they were stopping it. I’d explain that I had to protect my daughter’s ability to walk and had to insist if their kid was stopping the walker from moving they couldn’t touch. When they would say something under their breath about “kids being kids” I’d have to say, sure, of course, but after several requests, they’d need to intervene with their child to help me protect my daughter’s right to be mobile.
It was the first time in her life she moved; she was active. The very least I could do was protect her hard fought mobility. It didn’t matter that other people thought something was “wrong” with her or that other mothers thought that Quinn getting any attention would outweigh her needs to be met and protected, what mattered was Quinn’s ability to move.
Watching her grow during the time from sitting still to moving was magical to witness. Once she took off, she never looked back. When I look at her I always think to myself, “Fly Quinn Fly.”
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