We celebrated my niece’s 7th birthday today. She was so excited to open her presents, and her face lit up when she opened a long box that contained a pair of shiny blue stilts.
One of my family’s favorite memories is all about stilts. My grandpa built stilts for each of us…tall rails of wood with a little wooden platform nailed a third of the way up. They were painted black below the platform, white most of the way up, and then green tips on mine and blue on my brother’s. My little sister had a short pair with yellow tips so she could walk with us as well.
They were so tall! We had a hard time learning to walk on them at first. We leaned them against the garage wall and climbed up. We leaned and leaned, and then dared to push forward and just try to balance. We wobbled and fell, over and over. But persistence paid off, and before long we were able to take a step or two. We would topple over, then pick it all up and lean against the wall again. Our neighborhood friends were just as fascinated as we were, so they would take turns leaning and stepping as well. It seemed like it took forever to get good enough to string together some steps successfully, but once we did we were walking all over the lawn, tall and triumphant on our stilts.
We wore our stilts out. The platforms eventually loosened and the paint even wore away. We loved them and loved walking on them. Thanks to Grandpa, we had a treasured plaything for years.
My niece’s stilts were ordered online. They are made of metal and fit to her size. She has handles to hold onto instead of rails behind her shoulders. But she leaned against the garage wall and took her first wobbly steps today just like we did so many years ago. It’s wonderful to see the tradition continue, and it would certainly have made my Grandpa chuckle to see her wobbling along with a big smile on her face.