There’s a storm brewing: the baby is mobile

I wrote recently about the baby’s achievements in learning the art of crawling. Since then, he has improved by leaps and bounds, such as those jumping acts apply to one who cannot yet stand upright.

The little fellow has become increasingly mobile in his desire to see the world, as defined by the first floor of our house. Now, having helped the child attain such a glorious milestone, it is time for all good parents to experience remorse.

It is time to regret all of the crawling demonstrations given to the wide-eyed infant. It is time to wish away all the helping hands provided in keeping his little knees underneath him as he wobbled back and forth. It is time to think better of all the encouragement and clapping of hands that accompanied the gaining of that first inch of ground.

It is time to feel the horror building from the pit of the stomach as the realization sets in: we’ve given this monster the superpower of mobility.

baby playing with cat

Even the cat asks us, “What the hell were you thinking?” with his shocked and alarmed eyes.

There must be some side-effect of parenthood that makes people stupid and forgetful. We are too stupid to realize that a stationary baby is far less a danger to our persons and our property than is a mobile baby. And we can’t even remember this moment of terrible revelation from the last time we went through it.

We should have been tipping him over every time he climbed up upon his hands and knees. We should have been furiously barricading his path with bookcases and upended dining tables. We should have clapped and cheered every time his arms gave out under the weight of his body.

But we did not do these eminently practical things. We did everything he needed us to do in order for him to achieve his nefarious ends. We did it all, because we would rather live in a house, destroyed or barren up to the waist, than suffer our child to be one moment behindhand in his development.

Well, the joke’s on us because we don’t have a cautious child at all. Instead, we have a charismatic manipulator, who beguiled us into the role of henchmen with his three-and-a-half-toothed smile. Only as we begin to pay the price for our callow enthusiasm does the spell begin to fade.

cat watching baby crawl

The reality of the situation having set in, the cat makes plans to abandon this area to the raging whirlwind. Note the overturned bus in the background. Add those unfortunate commuters to the storm’s toll.

It’s too late. Things are getting misplaced, broken, and maybe even slobbered upon. Every day the house becomes more and more top heavy with precious items too dear to be sacrificed as low hanging fruit.

And of all the foolish parents in the world, we are perhaps the biggest fools, for we have helped this baby hone his crawling skills just in time to make a playground of havoc out of a Christmas tree.

Don’t start a crawl you can’t finish

The baby has been working on his crawling for the past few weeks and has finally honed the single skill that will give him the confidence to become a proficient crawler. I call this skill the exit strategy.

For the first couple weeks of crawling practice, the baby did the natural thing by rolling himself onto his tummy and pushing himself up onto his hands and knees. This was all well and good while it lasted, but he was doomed to lose this posture before long and find himself flat on his belly, hopelessly trying to doggie paddle across the carpet.

He found this to be an awkward and vulnerable position. All he could do was cry and hope that some helpful walker would take pity and set him back up into a sitting position. From there, he could play quietly and forget all about his crawling woes until some inviting object, just outside of his reach, tempted him into another fiasco of failed locomotion.

Crawling had descended into quagmire for him. He could get into proper position, but then not really go anywhere, except maybe a few inches in reverse, before his limbs gave out and left him beached on the unforgiving shores of immobility.

crawling practice

He’s in the starting blocks, but is he in forward or reverse gear?

This flawed routine was beginning to gnaw at his confidence. It certainly made him cry a lot, and perhaps develop a habit of searching the space above him for circling birds of prey. It also made him less threatening to the cat, who no longer seemed to worry about letting down his guard around such an unpredictable creature.

That was when ingenuity took precedence over instinct. The baby stopped working so hard on trying to move, having assumed the proper crawling position, and started working on putting himself back into a stable, upright sitting posture. If you don’t agree that this breakthrough has undoubtedly saved the human race from extinction, imagine the world’s ancient population of cave people lying flat on their bellies in predator-filled forests, crying out, “Unga munga wunga!” (Loosely translated: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”)

Once the baby knew that he could rescue himself from crawling mishaps and put himself back where he could swat at any potential swooping birds and keep the cat in his proper place, crawling was not the high-risk ordeal it had once been. It was amazing how much more eager he was to practice crawling once he knew that he controlled how practice would end.

baby and toys

Ambition –noun– def: strong desire for achievement, as when a baby desperately crawls toward a walker.

The boy is not a proficient crawler yet, but it’s all downhill from here. He’s conquered the one thing that could stand in his way; he’s conquered his fear, and he did it with a remarkably well-ordered plan.

Our budding little human developed his first exit strategy, which is good news for him, but bad news for the cat, because now the cat will have to develop quick exit strategies from anyplace that is floor level.