Skip to content

The Gift of Walking

April 21, 2017

Another Way for week of April 22, 2017

The Gift of Walking

My daughter shared a wonderful image from her 14-month-old’s life recently as they walked to a nearby playground. It was the first time he’d been to the playground since he had started to walk; he is pretty solid but still falls occasionally.

Her husband and their older son took off quickly for a favorite amusement. Michelle took the toddler out of the stroller and instead of taking him and putting him on the nearest slide or swing, she thought she’d let him choose where he wanted to go first. But instead of making a beeline anywhere, he just stood there, taking it all in.

She imagined him weighing the delicious choices in his very young brain. Where should he go? Did he really have the option to choose? What new freedom did he have? And in a minute, he happily walked toward the swings.

But what struck me about her story was thinking about the process of getting from newborn-infant-helplessness to walking-upright-over-uneven-ground and choosing your own play.

Does cruising count as walking?

We’ve been so fortunate to have four grandsons since 2013. I have been marveling at the wonderful process of learning to walk—even if from afar. When our daughters were learning to walk, I was with them many hours a day (I worked about three days a week while they were small). The learning-to-walk process seemed to take forever. In fact, as a new mom, I remember being somewhat astounded about how unclear a process it was. What was actual walking? Is taking one step while holding on to furniture considered walking? Or just cruising? Is standing and stepping and then falling considered a first step? What counts? What if she takes one step one evening, immediately falls, and then doesn’t try for another week or two? What date do you put in the baby book?

The developmental steps involved start with the baby’s first wobbly attempts at just holding up his own head which weighs proportionally so much more than the rest of his body. Next comes increasing the upper arm and shoulder strength that enables babies to turn over. The current sleeping patterns of infants in North America, where pediatricians encourage parents to always place infants on their backs to sleep (which has greatly reduced death rates from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), can slow the rate at which they begin holding their heads up off the mattress or floor.

So “tummy time” spent regularly on the floor helps make up that loss. Rolling over and getting into the crouching position and ready to crawl comes over the next few months. Sitting up and then shifting weight onto one hand or another is another step which leads to the walking process. Finally, pulling into a kneeling or standing position with the use of crib rails or furniture—and they’re almost there! But it can still take weeks and months for the actual first step or two to happen.

Do animals have to labor through any of this? They would appear not to. The difference between human and animal babies is explained at least in part by the relatively undeveloped brain of an infant at birth—where human babies do much less for themselves than the offspring of animals.

We have neighbors with sheep and I always enjoy this time of year when frequently some new baby lambs make an appearance. The lambs love gamboling about in the field down the road from our house. This is like a day or two after they are born. What would we think if a tiny infant would get up and frolic in two days? We’d call the national media! Lambs actually are usually standing within the first hour.

The same with a young baby calf: they are typically on their rather shaky legs within 30 minutes of being born. If they aren’t up and about within two hours veterinarians say humans should intervene. It must be said however that walking on all fours is infinitely easier than standing upright to walk on just two limbs. That’s why we first learn to crawl.

These days, most often grandparents do not see a grandchild’s first steps in person—unless they live nearby or baby sit every day or frequently. We may get a video or do a Facetime video session with them, and oooh and praise their first steps that way. I love the Proverb that goes “Children’s children are a crown to the aged” (Proverbs 17:6).

What fun watching new lambs, calves or babies exploring their world. What a shame that too soon we take for granted the wonderful gift of walking and navigating on our own.  We newly appreciate the gift of walking as we get older and watch our friends and relatives lose mobility—temporarily or not. We don’t often remember the second part of Proverbs 17:6, which adds a different slant on aging: “And parents are the pride of their children.” In some cultures, the aged hold places of high respect and honor. In North America, we often could do better in that department—to honor and visit and appreciate the aging among us—whether related or not.


Send any comments to or contact me at Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, Va. 22850.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books, most recently Whatever Happened to Dinner. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  




  1. As I enter into another phase of sorting at my aunt’s house, I enjoy taking a break walking in the woods behind the house. yesterday I gathered bouquets of tulips, hyacinths, and narcissus.

    Thank you for your insights into young walking, little people and young animals. Yes, I do think cruising counts as walking.

  2. The walks behind your aunt’s house sound positively necessary! How nice you can enjoy a bit of a late Pa. spring.

    I guess I don’t count cruising as walking–I’m a purist I guess. It seems like standing up and balancing by yourself and taking a step qualifies for the first step, and then taking 2 or 3 steps in succession is walking. And cruising is just cruising–often with a bruising from frequent falls! Although I would never argue with a parent who claims cruising is walking. 🙂 Funny how sometimes we have certain pictures or “shoulds” in our brains.

    Have a great week!

  3. singinglady37 permalink

    Yes I related but also in another direction.
    I remember when I babysat our eldest granddaughter and at about 6 months or so ,I was helping to do patterning program with a young boy from out church (UBC) who was a quadriplegic and had just started school .
    My turn was on his lunch hour and I would take Ashleigh in her stroller while I worked with 3 other people … one on each limb to try to get him moving in a crawling motion .

    I then took Ash home and put her down on the floor . She was just starting to crawl and I couldn’t help but realize how much we take these things for granted when our kids do things at the times they are supposed to do them.
    Incidentally, Josh the Quadriplegic ( is now a university grad in his late 30’s and is a missionary in Japan .)

    Fast forward to today and we look at one of our dear great grandsons (son of Ashleigh)
    He is now 3 1/2 and has a rare genetic disorder called Crie Du Chat (CDC-5) and we see where he is at in his progression to even be able to stand a bit and he can stay a few words.
    Walking may be next!

    We are not putting any restrictions on his progress as he starts JK in a special school where he will get added physio and other helps for when he goes to SK next year in a public school.
    His parents are so happy he will be able to go there as he has been attending part time this past year and has made some good advances.
    His baby brother now 8 months is already doing things in the normal progression of time but we know that God has great things in store for Adrian too.

  4. Thanks for adding this wonderful progress report from two with special needs. I remember hearing of how my pastor and his wife helped do patterning exercises for their son–as I worked for them one summer doing painting. It was fascinating and this son has also done fairly well: I understand he is able to hold a job. Wow regarding Josh’s progress and mission in life. How truly exciting and special to follow this kind of call with his “differences” as we likely should call them now. I have not heard of Crie Du Chat. I will look it up. I understand what you’re saying as you follow their journey and as you celebrate your great grandson’s progress.

    • Athanasia permalink

      Singinglady, we have a family at church whose younger daughter has Cri du Chat. There is a lot of care-giving involved with her. She was never able to crawl and cannot walk. I pray for better prognosis for your great grandson.

      I don’t think I have heard the term cruising as regards learning to walk, though I have seen a commercial on TV for some cruiser diapers. I guess we always just call it toddling.

      My youngest daughter never crawled. She scooted along on her behind as she always carried something in her free hand…a blanket or toy or stuffed animal. My youngest brother did the same thing.

      • Athanasia, scooting works! I know you follow Lovina Eicher; in her column this week (it will be posted Friday), she talks about her baby granddaughter working on scooting. 🙂 Thanks for chiming in.

  5. “Children’s children are a crown to the aged” (Proverbs 17:6). So true! As I prepare to wear a third crown in June (God willing), I look forward to witnessing many milestones, the biggest of which will/may be walking. Our granddaughter will be three months old in August and 12 months old when we leave Pittsburgh at the end of May.

    I love the way you noticed the pause before the first waddling away — the delight of the new freedom.

    • Michelle D. Sinclair permalink

      Thank you Shirley! And I’m so glad Mom thought to write this story down after I related it to her over the phone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Jennifer Murch

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. -Twyla Tharp

Trisha Faye

Cherishing the Past while Celebrating the Present


To walk or tramp about; to gad, wander. < Old French - trapasser (to trespass).

Tuesdays with Laurie

"Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing." —Laurie Buchanan

Hickory Hill Farm

Blueberries, grapes, vegetables, and more

The Centrality and Supremacy of Jesus Christ

The Website & Blog of David D. Flowers

Cynthia's Communique

Navigating careers, the media and life

the practical mystic

spiritual adventures in the real world

Osheta Moore

Shalom in the City

Shirley Hershey Showalter

writing and reading memoir

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.

mama congo

Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.


Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.

Roadkill Crossing

Writing generated from the rural life

%d bloggers like this: