The most glorious thing happened this weekend – Hannah learnt how to stand on her own two feet.
It had been a long time coming. She has wanted desperately to spend most of her life standing, from the moment she realised it was a thing. In the early days she would cry and insist on being placed in the standing position. Immediately, a big grin would follow.
As she got older, she figured out how to pull herself up on furniture and people. She has cruised happily for months now. But she has always been reluctant to take that next leap forward – letting go.
We have tried to help her. It has been obvious for a while that she is capable. Often when she is playing while standing, she lets go of the furniture in order to explore a toy with two hands, or to pass it from one to the other. In those moments, she doesn’t appear to realise that she is no longer holding on, but instead standing independently on her own two feet. But it’s been getting her to do it consciously that has been the challenge.
Recently, I’ve been playing lots of standing games with her. I let her pull herself up on my leg, then we walk around for a while, then finally I gently pry her hands away, hold her until I can feel she is balanced, then carefully take away my hands. She appears to enjoy it for a fleeting moment, but then uncertainty takes over and she lowers herself carefully to the ground.
On Friday that changed. We were playing on the floor and Hannah crawled over to me. She used my legs to pull herself up, but then she let go. She eased herself up to an upright standing position, and there she stood. A gigantic grin formed across her face as I counted. Her knees bent and her arms stretched out as she worked to maintain her balance for as long as she could.
I counted to sixteen before Hannah gently lowered herself back down. After a great big cheer and celebratory cuddle, she was straight back into it again. We must have played the game for half an hour straight. Each time, it was Hannah in control. I was merely a small step, off which she could push.
Sometimes her legs were too far apart, and she would fall straight away. She laughed. Sometimes she would stand tall, but a fleeting moment of distraction would see her suddenly fall to her bottom. She laughed at that too. It was her game, played on her terms. And she loved every minute of it.
We showed Emma the game when she got home on Friday night. Hannah was pretty worn out by then, but she still stood a couple of times, to show her mum what she could do.
Then, on Saturday morning, Hannah took it to the next level. She pushed up off the floor into a standing position, all by herself. It was a glorious moment. Emma and I watched on in pure amazement as our little girl made one profoundly purposeful push and then… there she was, standing on her own two feet.