Picture the scene: It’s just before 6am and Ben Keenan, husband, father, bookseller and puff pastry enthusiast is lying on the floor of his lounge in the semi darkness.
His son and heir, Thomas, is a couple of metres away, holding on tightly to a well built stroller full of wooden blocks. Suddenly, in less time than it would take Usain Bolt, the boy, his wooden stroller and 35 wooden blocks land on his father’s head in a scene frighteningly reminiscent of Ben Hur’s famous chariot race. A mixture of pain, pride and did I mention pain overwhelmed me as I gazed into the eyes of my baby boy, who is learning how to walk with a fearless disregard for his own limitations. After a decent breakfast, some cartoons and paracetamol for my aching head, all was back to normal until the moment the boy discovered where I’d hidden the stroller. It’s weird, but as soon as Tom attaches his paws to that easy-grip handlebar, he cannot be stopped. When I hold his hands and we go for strolls around the house or in the garden it is at a leisurely, somewhat gentle pace, but add four wheels and a plastic grip into the mix and it’s as if my very own white rabbit were late for a very important date. He has crashed into absolutely everything we own and takes delight in the experience of walking with his stroller and no matter how immovable the obstacles in his way,he’ll get through, no matter what. I’ve seen him move sofas, coffee tables and even a chaise long in a determined bid to cross whichever room he occupies. It is astonishing to think that just a few months ago, he couldn’t even sit up unsupported. I don’t think it will be long before Tom walks unaided as he now stands for minutes at a time without holding on.
On one hand, the stroller is aiding his ability to put one leg in front of the other, but on the other it’s inspiring him to run before he can walk. Whatever happens, I only hope he hasn’t inherited my total lack of coordination which would definitely hinder his progress.