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Independence March

My daughter loves to walk.

Put her down on a sidewalk armed
only with a toddler’s instinctive knowledge of the nearest swingset, and
she’s off and running. She can go for surprisingly long distances
without collapsing, and adores being given the space to “do it herself”.

daughter loves to walk.

She does not, however, like to turn
around and come back.

When Maddie takes it into her head to start walking in one direction on
the playground, I’ve got to have a game plan in action designed to turn
her around before she hits the street. Otherwise, she’ll just keep

Sometimes it’s cajoling – “Maddie, wouldn’t you like to go
see the rainbow sprinkler again?” Sometimes it’s appealing to her
nobler instincts – “Maddie, would you help me find your friend Emmett?”
“Memmett!” She says, and her eyes light up as she heads off to find him.

it’s appealing to her baser instincts – “Maddie, are you hungry? Do you
want a snack?”

Of course, there’s always brute force:
simply picking her up and carrying her back. But it’s not a pretty
scene for anyone to witness.

Truthfully, she’s not a bad kid.
She’s not looking to disobey or run away or make me mad. She simply
likes to walk, to continuously seek uncharted territory, find what’s
around the next corner. Maddie loves the independence walking brings
her, the ability to do things and make decisions on her own.

discovered her love of long-distance walking just recently. One night
at the park she began walking off, heading in the direction of home.
Shrugging our shoulders, Brian and I grabbed the stroller and walked
with her, curious to see how far she’d go before turning around.

answer was – all the way. The kiddo walked all the way home (minus
crossing streets!) – almost a mile. Her triumphant ascent of our front
stoop was one of the cutest things I’ve seen in a while.

next day we had a play date at her friend Naomi’s house, near the park.
Rather than lug Maddie’s stroller up a 3rd floor walk-up, I let her walk
over. She screamed every time I pick her up to cross the street, and
surged forward every time I put her back down. And she wasn’t thrilled
about having to hold my hand the whole time, but she accepted it.

walking has its downside, of course. She insisted on walking back home,
but between walking there, playing hard, and coming up on a lunch and a
nap, she was tired and cried almost the whole way. She’s walked upward
of three miles in one day – with no noticeable lengthening of her
naptime, much to my chagrin.

My kid just loves to walk, and
doesn’t know when to stop.

So we’ve been practicing going
for shorter walks, and helping her learn when she’s tired. On one
recent walk home from the park, I saw Maddie eyeing the stroller. “Do
you want to sit?” I asked, offering to put her in the stroller. She
nodded an emphatic yes.

And sat down on the sidewalk.

did I do?

I sat down next to her.

We had nowhere to be,
and nothing better to be doing. It’s one of the luxuries of having mom
as my job title: sitting on the sidewalk is what’s on the schedule.

stretched out in front of her, passing a few moments in contented
silence, Maddie was at peace with herself, smiling and nodding at all
the startled New Yorkers circumventing our little rest stop. When she
was ready, she simply stood up and started walking again.

Mommy scramble to catch up. With Maddie, it's keep up or be left


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