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I walk the line

Nurturing

Diary of a First-Time Dad
Edwin McGreal

With her new shoes well on the go, Frankie has been out and about outside a lot in recent weeks.
Granted, the Achill weather does not always play ball, but when it does, there are fewer nicer things to be doing than going for a family stroll. And by that I mean Frankie walking with us, not being pushed in the pram.
Frankie turned 18 months yesterday, and you would think that for a girl who is only walking six months, we’d ease her in gently. Nothing of the sort.
One nice evening we hit off down the road and Frankie happily followed us.
“Will we go down to Caroline’s?” I asked.
“Jeez, it’s a long walk for Frankie,” said Aisling. It is. It is fully one kilometre from our front door to Aisling’s sister’s.
I was not to be deterred.
“Ah, we’ll give it a go and if she’s getting tired, I can carry her.”
Yes, I’m already turning into one of those parents who is pushing their kids beyond their limits. Aisling reckons she’ll hear me soon roar ‘Get down and give me twenty Frankie’ if the poor girl does something bold.
I was willing to carry her as far as she needed, but I also wanted to see if she would actually make it there, or at least a good part of the way, herself. The latter was the preference. Carrying a two-stone weight on my shoulders is not my idea of a relaxing stroll.
And, what do you know? Frankie only went and walked the whole way. We needed a few subtle tricks to keep her literally on the straight and narrow though.
The hedges and the ditches were very attractive looking objects for Frankie; she obviously had no idea where the walk was leading to, and so was easily distracted. In the end, one of us always stayed ten metres or so in front to give her a target to go after. A parent walking ahead in a straight line kept her on the one road.
I felt like the bottle of Jameson used on Fr Jack’s walks in Father Ted.
The quiet roads in Dooega made for a very safe journey too. We got there, relaxed for a while before hitting the road again.
Frankie nearly made it all the way home too. Towards the end though, the sight of her mother, aunt and cousin in front of her was no longer motivation enough. She was losing interest and more concerned with the sheep in the fields.
Or maybe she was simply exhausted. I carried her home for the last part of the journey.
Next week, I’ll tell you how we got on climbing Croagh Patrick. Only joking … Or am I?

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

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