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I get knocked down …


Diary of a First-Time Dad
Edwin McGreal

I’m sure there are worse sounds to hear than your own baby crying … I just can’t think of any right now.
Frankie has been crying a bit these last couple of weeks, and for one reason only – because she’s falling down.
Once your baby starts to crawl, it is such a different stage of parenthood. It’s like you spent the previous nine months with a different baby.
Suddenly Frankie doesn’t want to be held; she wants to be put down to explore her surroundings. She is picking up speed all the time, despite her unorthodox style of only using one knee and dragging her right leg. As she gathers pace, she lets out these funny noises. ‘Doddle, doddle, doddle’ means real excitement.
As she moves, you are attuned to danger, but it is impossible to avoid accidents.
Frankie is able now to pull herself up to a standing position by using furniture or the low windowsill in the sitting room. She is in her element looking out the window all by herself, but trying to get back on the ground to move somewhere else isn’t quite as easy.
She’s working on the art of holding on with one hand and crouching down to sit on her bum and take off again, but there has been a lot of trial and error. Slipping is a hazard. I was mere feet away when she was standing up against the couch and slipped unexpectedly. Instead of coming down on her bum, she landed back and hit her head off the timber floor. Oh the howls!
It’s an awful noise to hear. You know she’s okay, but you rush to comfort her, reaching straight for the favourite toys and teddy bears to cheer her up.
I find it very hard to be too far away from her when she is moving around the place for fear she might fall. But I know I have to let it happen. It’s part of her development. I keep thinking of the Chumbawumba lyrics, ‘I get knocked down. But I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down’, and within a minute she has forgotten all about it and is smiling again, oblivious to her fall.
Coming home from work now comes with an added bonus. Frankie is often standing, holding onto the windowsill, and gets a rush of excitement when she sees you come in the drive. Walk up to her and she will howl with excitement from inside the window: ‘Doddle, doddle, doddle’.
Trouble is, walk back to your car in order to park it, and the crying starts again. She thinks you’re gone again. It’s cute … for now. It won’t be long until I’ll have to be sneaking out the door to go to work. There’s only so much crying you can take!  

In his fortnightly column, first-time-father Edwin McGreal  chart the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.