Monday, February 20, 2012


Because my wife and I both work full time, our 11-month-old son spends many of his waking hours in the care of others. We had never formally discussed how we would handle the inevitable developmental milestones that were sure to occur while we were toiling away at work.

Several weeks ago my wife had picked up Elliot from school and was entering our house loaded down with him, all the accompanying baby paraphernalia as well as some work she’d brought home. Right after crossing the threshold, she realized she’d clearly had too much in her hands, and in an effort to avoid a catastrophic fall, she lowered Elliot to the ground while simultaneously stumbling to our dining room table to set the rest of her items down before they all went flying.  It took her a second to notice that Elliot was just standing there, right where she put him, on his own two feet, looking at her.  This was a huge deal! He’d pulled himself up plenty but never stood unassisted. She quickly called me to tell me the good news. She informed me that she thinks he is about to start trying to walk.

Well, sure enough, she was right. Later that night we set up him in our kitchen, encouraged him to take a few steps, and off he went. I was even smart enough to videotape it.

So somehow, despite being away so much, we were both there for his first steps. Pretty cool. We were obviously excited, but for some reason it never occurred to us to share this with his caregivers. The next week was a very funny study in how each person broke the news to us that our son was walking and we’d missed it.

First came his normal daycare. We picked him up as usual on Monday and not a word about anything out of the ordinary. Then when we got home and were reviewing his daily log sheet, there it was down at the bottom in the notes section. It said, “Took 15 steps.” No frills, no fanfare, just black and white.

Fast forward to Wednesday, that is my mom’s day to watch him. We hadn’t been at work for an hour when the text messages with way too many exclamation points started pouring in. My mom was so excited, and I actually think a little disappointed, to learn that she wasn’t the first to see this new achievement. My mom has not been shy about taking credit for “teaching” him to roll over when he was very little and insists that every sound he makes that sounds vaguely like a word was something she taught him. She informed us that they’d been having “walking practice” every Wednesday for weeks, and this was clearly a result of all that hard work!

Finally, our church nursery was the last to see Elliot’s new trick. Apparently, of all our caregivers, they are the only ones concerned about the potential sensitivities parents might have on missing out on a milestone like this. We were chatting with the director, and she seemed to be lingering a little longer than normal on the topic of Elliot. Finally, she came out with one of the strangest questions I’d had posed to me in a while. “So, Elliot, um, have you noticed that developmentally he is doing anything that you might consider significant recently?” I had nothing but question marks above my head, but my wife didn’t miss a beat. “Oh, you mean the walking? Yeah, he started doing it last weekend.” The director was so relieved to know that we knew. Then she gushed, “I couldn’t believe it! He was just playing and then there he went, walking across the room!”

As working parents we are well aware that the next big milestone may not happen on our watch, and I think we are mostly prepared for it, but I have to wonder how it will really feel when it happens. I’m not sure if I want to read about it on a sheet of paper or have someone ask me “So has Elliot been doing anything interesting lately … because if not, you may to have your video camera handy tonight.”

Jordan Echols is a Marketing Manager at Texas Health Resources and dad to 11-month-old Elliot.

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