Finally! At the age of six, Eddie is taking some completely independent steps. For over two years, he has walked with a hand held, or even a simple touch on the back of his neck. Within the last week, he has begun walking without any type of touch or support. We stay within close range and when he starts to feel insecure, we just let him know we are still there. With a few words, he marches off again.
I can’t explain how long it feels like we have waited for this to happen. We have taught him to hold his cane, but he has had little use for it when an adult was always guiding his steps. Now, he needs a cane because he is guiding himself. That is extremely exciting for me! I can’t wait to send videos to all his previous therapists to show them what they have helped him achieve.
Last night, Eddie took about fifteen steps totally independently in front of his 8-yr-old sister. She leaped out of her chair and exclaimed, “Eddie!” “Eddie, you are walking by yourself!” She startled him so bad that he fell to the ground; then, she started hugging him and he was laughing hysterically. For one thing, I didn’t know she hadn’t seen him do it yet. For another, I didn’t know she was also anxiously waiting for the day he could walk by himself.
I tear up thinking about how many times I’ve wished for him to come this far. When Eddie was six months old, his neurologist told us that he would walk by eighteen months. Well, he didn’t even crawl until he was three. I began to wonder when Eddie might strike out on his own, and now I finally have my answer. At six and a half, Eddie is walking.
I find myself staying close, worried that he’ll run into things or maybe fall down. I have to remember that I want him to be independent and to give him freedom to explore. Yes, he falls down, but he simply gets right back up. He has a knack for avoiding obstacles while scooting and crawling, and he has maintained that skill while walking. I have to remember that this isn’t the first time he has had independence, just a different way of executing it.
Honestly, I can’t think of anything I’d want more during the holidays than for this gift Eddie has given us. He is walking! Alone! I am beyond happy and quite easily moved to tears at the sight of him. All the tears of frustration and sadness have been worth it for these recent tears of joy. He has reminded us that he can meet our expectations and that if we keep setting the bar high, he will clear it.