At long last my daughter has learned to walk. But she is in no hurry to pick up the pace…

<span>‘I didn’t previously think of myself as an impatient person, but I am in no doubt about that diagnosis now.’</span><span>Photograph: Maskot/Getty Images</span>
‘I didn’t previously think of myself as an impatient person, but I am in no doubt about that diagnosis now.’Photograph: Maskot/Getty Images

After taking a long time to start walking, my daughter now refuses to do anything else. She’s not yet two, but has the strength of a yak and the tenacity of a cockroach. I discover this anew each morning as she revolts against being placed in her buggy like I’m shoving her into a pizza oven, thrashing and flailing until, eventually, I give up and abandon any long-range plans and resign myself to walking the same short path from our house to our nearest playground. I say short, but this journey is vast and long, because my daughter likes to take her time.

The fact is she walks slower than any human being I’ve ever known. This is clearly not her fault. She’s only been at it for six months and, in fairness, her legs are shorter than my forearms. But, aside from the logistics, I think I sense a philosophical inclination. She stops after most steps, as if consumed with some larger pleasure at the state of walking itself. Time warps around her. Life contemplates itself.

My daughter’s stride may well be karmic punishment

To paraphrase John Banville, if there is a longer version of shrift, it is this she gives in spades. Each step seems to prompt a prolonged reflection of joy towards the great mysteries of the universe. She is a sommelier of the pavement who savours perambulation as if it’s a 1910 Château Lafite, and she will not be rushed under any circumstances. She reaches out a gummy hand, wrapping its entirety around my little finger, beckoning me to relish slow life like she does.

Unfortunately – even a little shamefully – I find this very hard. I do try to rush her. I can’t help it. I didn’t previously think of myself as an especially impatient person, but I am in no doubt about that diagnosis now. I have not merely an aversion toward, but an acute horror of, slowness in all its forms. I walk as if my legs are on fire and I am usually doing something else – Googling ‘fancy expensive wine name’, for example – as I go.

I recall now all those times my friends have struggled to keep up with me, or the numerous arguments my wife and I used to have when we were first courting, prompted by my habit of inadvertently walking three steps ahead of her in the manner of a Victorian mill owner.

My daughter’s stride may well be karmic punishment for this retinue of roaming rudeness. No matter how much I tut and strop, she will not be moved. Trying to make her hurry is like trying to talk your way out of sunburn. And so, we continue. Her, a foot tall and walking at snail’s pace, me striding beside her like a secret service agent minding a superannuated world leader as she totters to her speaking engagements.

At this speed, I take in greater details, attempting to savour the smaller sensations of life that she experiences as a human glacier. Eventually, I resolve to take inspiration from the joy she gets from her independence and the awe with which she inflects each turn on this route that she’s walked 1,000 times before.

I am trying. A stupid, impatient student on a long, slow path to enlightenment. Luckily, there is a guru on my finger, and she knows which way to go.

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Séamas O’Reilly is out now (Little, Brown, £16.99). Buy a copy from guardianbookshop at £14.78

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