Look out cat, there's another toddler in the house

I had one of those special parenting "moments" yesterday.

We were getting ready to go to preschool and the 16-month-old walked to the car. Across the deck, down three steps, out to the car. Without help. Without any encouragement. And wow, did she think she was the schizzle dizzle.

She's not the steadiest on her feet and she's got one of those I-don't-really-know-what-I'm- doing-but-I'll-have-a-crack-at-it' gaits but we officially have another toddler in the house.

It's been funny watching her walking progress. She first walked behind something on her first birthday but it's taken another four months before she has felt comfortable to be out striding. She walks about 90 per cent of the time now but, if you do catch her crawling, you can tell her to walk and she'll stand up and take off.

Some parents would prefer to keep their children in that crawling stage. I'm often told that they become a handful when they walk so "keep them crawling for as long you can".

Not me - I'd much rather be walking, albeit slowly, along the street holding my daughter's tiny hand in my big mitt than pushing her in a pushchair. Even if it means walking on a funny angle to reach her hand. I can't wait to get rid of the pushchair for good. It can be a real hassle constantly swapping it for the golf clubs. (Ha ha. See what I did there. Golf. I remember that . . . )

This walking malarky does mean that my little girl is growing up, but I'm fine with that. Her mum might prefer to keep her at this adorable age but I'm all about being able to do things with them. I know it's a bloke thing, but you can't really do much with babies except goo and gaa over them.

With toddlers, well, the question isn't what could you do, it's more what can't you do. And the answer is not much. We can go rock pool adventuring, we can walk through the bush, play games (golf anyone?), walk on the beach, dance in a crazy way, walk up a hill . . . you get the idea. It's going to be grand.

Of course, it's not just me who will enjoy having Piper walking confidently. There's a 3-year-old who now has a willing playmate who doesn't just sit on the floor and cry when toys are taken off her. No siree, Zach is quickly learning that he can have fun with his little sister . . . but that comes at a cost.

Piper was playing with a toy one day this week when Zach decided to grab it off her. In her pre- toddler days she would have just cried, we would have growled and forced Zach to return it, say sorry and give her a kiss. But in the new toddling era, she was up on her feet and before you could say United Nations had marched over to him, grabbed the toy back and clobbered him one. Which, of course, set him, wailing: "Piper hit me", as he writhed in "agony" on the ground.

We do have a rule of "no hitting", but it's hard not to laugh in this situation. Particularly when Piper looked so pleased with herself.

But it's not Zach I feel the most sorry for. Piper loves Furley, "The Fleet-Footed Ninja Assassin" Cat, and it looks as though the favour is returned. (Regular readers might recall that Zach and Furley didn't get on that well - nothing has changed there. But she's OK with Piper. Go figure.)

She already insists on letting you know who that the cat is in the room - "kaaaaat, kaaaat" - so I can foresee a time where she'll be chasing poor Furley around the house. Ah yes, the next few years are going to be interesting. It could even be carnage. So best walk on now. Nothing to see here.

* Mark Hotton is a fulltime journalist/fulltime dad whose true intentions around getting his children to walk probably involve the carrying of a golf bag and the finding of misplaced golf balls.

The Southland Times