How to Walk Your Toddler

Well now. I can state with absolute certainty that being possibly dead for the last little while has never been so exciting. I also think that 64 comments of mostly unabashed silliness is more fun than I have had here in awhile — at least, since the Great Beans Incident of Ought-Nine. So my ever-hilarious peeps, I thank you from the bottom of my mostly-undead heart.

So, what else is new (besides possibly not being dead) you ask?

Well, nothing really. We are in for a few days of 23-ish degree weather, which means That Baby and I will be spending some time outdoors. This will be wonderful, if only for the fact that it WEARS THAT KID OUT. And then she SLEEPS. And then I get to pretend I am a single, wholly-independent entity again for an hour or two, instead of the Person Who Is Here To Serve. So I am totally in favour of anything that uses up the energy in That Baby’s tank.

Today we did a walk to the park. I got Stinkerbelle dressed in shoes and coat, I got myself dressed, and we got the stroller out. Now, I made what could have been a HUUUUUUUUGE error in judgment today. As we were setting out on our walk, I asked That Baby, “Would you like to go to the park and go on the swings?”

(Insert alarm bells going off here. Or maybe even that car crash sound.)

Experienced moms are right now doing a collective ::FOREHEAD SMACK:: and thinking to themselves, “Dude. You should NEVER actually SAY those words until you are THERE!” Because most kids? All they hear is “PARK” and “SWINGS” and they will want it NOWNOWNOWNOWNOW! NO WAITING! WANT!

And for a moment there, I felt the urge to suck those words right back down my throat, as they hung in the air, and I waited for a Toddler Freakout of Epic Proportions to commence.

Fortunately that didn’t happen. Stinkerbelle is generally speaking The Most Easygoing Kid on the Planet, which means she tends to be patient. And she’s also WAAAAAY smarter than we give her credit for. She didn’t wig out. She got excited, yes, and there was much shouting of “YAYAYAYAYAYAY!” and much squirming and saying and signing “SWINGS!” But she happily rode along in her stroller and chattered away.

When we go to the park, we go to a park in an older neighbourhood that is well kept, but not used much. It is generally fairly kid-free, which means there’s lots of space for Stinkerbelle to play and, more importantly, no lineup for the swings. So, let’s say for ease of discussion that this park is on Oak Street.

Oak Street is a good 20 minutes walk from here, if you go straight there, and 30-45 minutes if you are walking for exercise and go there as part of one of my longer routes, as is usually the case. So, on our way to Oak Street, we pass the schoolyard park on Pine Street, and the park on Maple Street, and the park on Hickory Street… we pass a NUMBER of parks. We generally don’t stop at any of those parks, though. We stop at Oak Street, and that’s that.

So as I am walking along with Stinkerbelle, and we come upon a park, I used to brace myself for a toddler freakout. ZOMGWTFBBQPARKPARKPARKPARK!

But it never happened. That Baby will yell, and point, and tell me she sees a park, and swings, but that’s about it. She gets really excited if there are kids there, but that’s all it is: baby happy shouty chatter. She still rides along, not freaking out, periodically telling me that we must go to the PARK and go on the SWINGS, I guess so that I do not FORGET.

But then, we turn on to Oak Street, and That Baby sits BOLT UPRIGHT in her stroller. And the SECOND those swings come into view, That Baby starts to get excited fit to EXPLODE.

OMG! OAK STREET PARK! MY SWINGS! GOGOGOGOGO HURRYHURRYHURRYHURRY YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!

She KNOWS. She knows this is HER PARK.

This makes life immeasurably easier for Mom. I can get a workout in, walking with her, before we go to the park, and I know she won’t wig out until it is time to get out and play (well, except for when we are getting close to that little park on Spruce Street, but that’s another favourite little rest stop). She will be patient and talk and sing and generally ride along until it’s time to play.

I am VERY lucky. I know this. And I know it might not last so I am making the most of it.

This is also true of walking. I take Stinkerbelle out of the stroller from time to time on our walks, usually in a quiet neighbourhood or on a long, flat stretch of sidewalk, to let her walk and faff about and dawdle along and explore. Generally speaking, we do this on Pine Street by the school, or on Walnut Street or Cherry Street which, being in quiet suburban neighbourhoods, are virtually empty on a workday morning.

She knows these spots now, and although she will ask periodically if she can get out and walk, she won’t fuss if I tell her no. She just waits for one of these regular walking spots to come along.

This also makes for a good walk for both of us. I am usually ready for a break in one of my 8 or 10 km walks when these streets come along, so slowing down so Captain Dawdlepants can stop every three feet and look at a stick or some schmutz or a spot on the pavement is way okay by me. I can have a drink and a rest and she can have some free time.

I know that this, too, might not last — so I am enjoying it while I can.

A lot of this is, I know, down to Stinkerbelle’s laid back personality. But a lot of it is routine. We walk as frequently as we can, and we are as consistent as we can be about the rules. She knows where she is allowed to get out and play, or where she can walk. It’s routine.

But also, we’ve worked really hard to establish some basic Rules of the Road, if you want to call it that. She knows that she MUST stay on the sidewalk, and that when I say “STOP!” she must stop IMMEDIATELY and wait for me. And she knows that she has to hold someone’s hand if we are crossing the street.

A lot of this is down to repetition. But we walk so far, and so often, it’s what has to be done. No questions. And we’re lucky to have a kid who’s okay with that.

Let’s just hope I can remember all these rules and locations and whatnot when, sometime in the future, That Baby is pushing ME around in my chair. And let’s hope I am as easygoing about it, or I won’t get to go to our favourite park on Oak Street.

5 thoughts on “How to Walk Your Toddler

  1. Ha! I just had a fantastic vision of you at 80 whilst Stinkerbelle is pushing your wheelchair and you are wigging out yelling –
    “OMG! OAK STREET PARK! MY SWINGS! GOGOGOGOGOHURRYHURRYHURRYHURRY YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!”

    Ha! Love. It!

  2. I have to tell you that when I google your Internet Name hits for the librarians STILL SHOW UP. On page ONE.

    You and your epic battle with the librarians? HISTORIC.

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