Squirm started walking shortly before his first birthday. He was wobbly at first, with plenty of spectacular falls. But the more he practices, the more his confidence grows, the better his walking has become.
One of the things we do a lot is walking at our local shops. On week days, during school time, our shops tend to be pretty quiet. So there’s plenty of space for Squirm to get in a good distance of walking without getting overwhelmed. He starts at the top of the ramp, slowly adjusting his balance to the gentle slope. Then we head through a short corridor and into the shops themselves.
We don’t see a lot of other children around his age walking. I can understand why. It can be excruciatingly slow to get from one place to another. It’s not always the most direct way of getting around the shops. And it can be down right overwhelming. But when we’re having a good day, with no rushing, it can be the absolute highlight of our day.
Squirm likes to walk closest to the shops. This helps him feel safer – he’s not the biggest fan of lots of legs coming towards him. It also means he can check out what’s in each of the store. Since he’s still learning how to hold onto my hand (it’s harder for him to balance) sometimes he heads off in an unexpected direction, checking out the local book shop (every single time we go past!) or making a quick detour into a jeans shop. Sometimes the shop windows hold little surprises, like the manicure shop which had a moving fountain in its window, so low that most people would walk past without noticing it. We stood and watched it and enjoyed the ways it moved water around.
Then there’s the toy cars and vehicles all around the shop, which draw his attention even if they’re not moving. We did get to see one moving a few days ago, and it was fascinating to Squirm (though I don’t think he quite realises that they’re fun to ride yet. Thank goodness!)
Of course, there are falls every now and then, sometimes quite spectacular. Most of the time Squirm pulls himself back up without comment, but it definitely worries some of the passerbys who don’t realise how durable he is 🙂 Having a toddler walking around the shops opens up conversations – with other shoppers, with shop assistants. My favourites are the ones who talk to him, like the guy at the newsagent who told Squirm that he liked his shoes the other day.
I’m so grateful we live near a shops where this is possible. I’m grateful to have the time in my day to take a quiet, meandering walk, to really see the shops in a different way than I do in my usual adult mode. I love the way Squirm opens my eyes to the world if I only let him.