I was born slightly different from most babies. One of my feet was twisted, with the toes much smaller than a normal baby’s. When I was one, I would wander around the house from the moment I awoke until when my dad replaced me in my crib every night. Although my foot was a setback, it didn’t stop me from crawling the floors and even climbing the sofa one day. I would chase our cat on my hands and knees, undaunted by how she would slip away swiftly under a couch or onto a high counter. Almost my entire waking time was spent crawling, although this allowed my parents a break during the night because I slept so easily.
By the time I was two, I had started to attempt walking. I started by pulling up to my knees with my little fists clutching a shelf, chair or anything solid, and from there would try to stand up. It was a painfully slow process for an impatient toddler. It took a lot of practice, but I anticipated walking too much to ever get tired of it.
Moving my feet was the next step. I was clumsier than a three-legged puppy at first, and tumbled forward so many times that I stopped trying for a few whole days. I just crouched on the floor and played with the toes on my strong foot, neglecting the other as if it had done me wrong. Falling over didn't hurt when it was on a carpet, at least.
But finally, I remember grabbing hold of my chair one day, and after pulling myself to my feet, I managed to stand. That alone would have earned me some loud praise and hugs from anyone nearby, and yet I wasn’t satisfied. Putting my twisted foot ahead first, I took a step so small that it was like I was walking on a trail covered with ants and didn’t want to trample any. When I didn’t fall over, I took another step that was marginally wider. I wanted to make it to the TV, and I wobbled a bit as I stared fiercely at the blank grey screen. Even if I fell over, I would not quit.
Three very slow foot-pulls later, I finally fell over. Frustrated, I crawled back to the chair and tried to pull up again, but dad returned from the bathroom moments later. He didn’t know what had happened as he lifted me up and nuzzled my face, but I was still much too young to tell him about it.
From that day on, I don’t think I ever passed up the opportunity to try walking. Not only would I practice anywhere with a chair, but I wore out my dad’s and sibling’s arms holding me up and helping me take small steps. I wasn’t happy with crawling anymore. My foot malformation was not so severe that I would never be able to do so, but it was considered doubtful that I would do such things as dancing or athletics as easily as other people. But I didn’t know that as a baby, so it never set me back. Much like most kids want to ride a bike as well as their big brother, I wanted to walk like daddy did.
But even today, almost fifteen years away from those days, I cannot walk as well as most people can. I stumble over things like rocks and articles of clothing, and because of my deformity, I never wear shoes that reveal my feet. Most people just think I’m clumsy, but plenty have pointed out that I walk weirdly. I use my stronger foot in front and take smaller steps with my weak one. It is a very slight and mild handicap.
Written by Grizzly Bear