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Monday, September 12, 2005  

Baby Steps

M. Small is walking.

Not as I write this, of course. As I write this, he's asleep (although given how fragile that state has been for him lately, I probably shouldn't jinx it). He's taken his first "steps" over the past month or so, if by "steps" you mean "random, directionless shuffling, followed almost immediately by falling down." He's not yet to the point where he can walk for the amount of time it took me to write this paragraph. And it wasn't that diaper-commercial moment I've always pictured, where one parent coaxes a solo stroll from the safe arms of the other. He's too independent for that. Last night he traversed the width of the living room, from love seat to sofa, without having to grab onto anything or anyone, and without ever taking an unplanned sit-down. Once he finished his Lindbergh-like journey, he grabbed the sofa cushion, buried his face in it, and screamed in exhilaration at a frequency that even the cats could barely hear. Of course, the camcorder batteries were dead. I'm the worst father since those things were invented.

He's been working on this for a good chunk of his life. We encouraged him as he learned to pull himself up to a standing position using his Intellitainer or the end table or whatever, and then as he learned to locomote around using furniture as a railing, and then to stand unaided (first unsteadily, and then surefootedly enough to applaud himself and wave at us as he did so). As the process went on, so to did the childproofing. I anchored the bookcases to the walls a couple of months ago, using bolts like the ones the Navy uses to keep fighter planes from blowing off the flight decks of aircraft carriers. We moved the breakable stuff from the aforementioned end table to higher ground a couple of weeks ago--or, more accurately, I moved them, and then Trash rearranged them so they didn't look like ass. We stuck little plastic stoppers into the unoccupied electrical outlets (what few there are, in a 1950-built house) The cabinet doors that wouldn't accept a handle lock, we tied shut with yarn and shoelaces. We jammed baby gates into every living room entry point two days ago, at the top of the basement stairs, and across the alcove where a not-terribly-well-balanced table, a six-foot vertical CD rack, and a floor lamp reside (any one of those things could topple and crush him with little enough effort on his part, but we know that left his own devices, he'd be able to create a domino effect that would end with him in the basement seconds later). So we're pretty well M. Small-proofed.

Just in time, too, looks like.

Walking is a major milestone in any child's life. Because that's when the falling begins in earnest.

And that's not the only thing. Baby's first hands-free promenade across the room initiates the lifelong parental balancing act between protection and freedom. You know he's not going to get any better at walking if you don't let him buckle and land on his diaper-padded butt a time or fifty. But how much will he learn from toppling full-length and banging the back of his head on the living room rug so his cerebellum sloshes around like a raw egg in its shell?

Well, among other things, he learned from having ice pressed to his noggin that that stuff is cold. Again.

We've been looking forward to this development for a while for reasons aside from the usual ones. Turtle, thanks to her awful table manners, has become the fattest of our three cats at barely a year of age. And it's not like we can put her on a diet, because Strat needs to have food accessible to him at all times thanks to his diabetes. However, if the cats can be said to belong to individual human members of the family, then Strat is mine, Phantom is Trash's, and Turtle is M. Small's. This appears to be both by her choice and by his enthusiastic agreement. He's been dangling sparkly cat toys at her from his Intellitainer seat since he was six months old, and she patietly bears his clumsy grabbings and rubbings of her and comes back for more. So we're hoping that given this powerful bond that's been forged between them since either of them was more than three months old, he'll soon be chasing her around. She'll trim down to a healthier weight, and he'll be too busy pursuing her to spend any time figuring out how to hide in the dishwasher.

Today's best search phrase: "Willy is a cheater and enjoys eating crap." And he knows people who are trying to Googlebomb him, too.

posted by M. Giant 9:30 PM 2 comments


Oh. the first steps. My sister just adopted an 11 month old girl. She was swaddled in the baby home (foreign adoption) so her legs aren't as strong. She is standing but you have to put her in the standing postion and straigten out her feet. She is at the just learning to sit up by herself stage. My sister doesn't mind. A little extra time to baby proof the house

(When I say just adopted, I mean she brought her to the US 2 weeks ago)

By Anonymous Libragirl, at September 14, 2005 at 5:24 PM  

Just in case you haven't already done so, remember to remove low tables with squared corners from your living room, including coffee tables and end tables. Those things are a leading cause of major head injuries among todders. Rounded corners will still hurt, but they won't cause the same severity of injury.

By Blogger Sleepless Mama, at September 15, 2005 at 3:34 PM  

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