For some months Grace has been up on her feet, cruising round the edges of furniture, pushing her wooden trolley. She's one of the oldest babies in my mother's group and the last to walk. I haven't worried too much because she's a bumshuffler and apparently it's quite usual for bumshufflers to be late walkers, say at eighteen rather than twelve months. All the same, my heart swelled today at mother's group as she joined the toddler pack for the first time. She's still a little unsteady with that strange robot gait, but in less than a week everything has changed. Grace is now a walker girl.
There are times I find this stage an almighty challenge and am nostalgic for the little baby who didn't unpack the stroller as fast as I could pack it. Or refuse to have her stinky nappy changed. But then there are other things that just crack me up. For example, Grace likes to put her bib on herself when she is ready for a meal, taking it off when she is finished. Then there is the way she tilts her head to the side and looks at you with laughter in her big brown eyes. Or how she jiggles to music. The way she lets me know that she wants a dink. The leg cuddles. Or how after I moved an ashtray (for recalcitrant smokers) in the garden she moved it back to where it was in the first place. I love to see her delight in the world around her and the moment when something clicks. How she wants to be part of everything we do from hanging about in the study to playing in the garden. And how sometimes she'll come and sit next to me for a little while, resting her hand on my leg.