11 October 2012

A Very Particular Set of Skills


He doesn’t have any money, but he is developing a very particular set of skills. And it’s turning into a nightmare. For people like me.

It’s the little one this time. Little Brother is rapidly developing new motor skills. And turning into someone almost as deadly and dangerous as a ticked-off Liam Neeson, whose daughter has just been kidnapped by a bunch of non-descript, Eastern European thugs. Mostly, we just want to tell him to stop, to slow down, to stay still. To just chill out. Because this is making us crazy.

Of course, it’s also amazing and beautiful and breathtaking and inspiring. Especially when considering how this journey started. Spending the first week of his life on this planet strapped down in a hospital bed and hooked up to tubes and machines. All the way to this. To this. Which is pretty incredible.

And also, how do they figure stuff out? I mean, really. How does it work? The brain is such a strange, foreign thing. Of course, you take it for granted, basic functioning, everything you’ve done your whole life. To watch it take shape, to watch it take root. To watch it develop. There’s nothing like it.

So he’s crawling. At seven months. Well, maybe when he was six. Or did he start at five? Anyway, apparently this is advanced. We’ve read that he shouldn't necessarily be crawling yet. We concur.

And then just the other day, he pulled himself up to a standing position. I wasn’t there, but it happened. He stood. Of course, it was only momentary, he proceeded to waver like a novice tightrope walker and then collapse. But he kept doing it. Kept getting right back up. Couldn’t be deterred.

For months now, he’s been scooting across the floor. It’s kind of like an army crawl, but it’s still entirely his own weird thing. It’s like watching Uma Thurman in Kill Bill: Vol. 1, dragging herself through that hospital parking lot to the Pussy Wagon. (At least that’s the way that I remember it.) Literally propelling oneself forward by any means necessary. I still have no idea where he’s trying to get to. I mean, he doesn’t even know where he is right now, so he can’t have any idea where he’s actually going. Maybe he’s just trying to get away. From us. Maybe he’s determined that anywhere must be better than here. 

I won’t dwell on that notion.

It is hard to reconcile this mobile creature with the one I can still see so vividly in my mind from those early days. And it’s not just the turbo-powered crawling. He keeps making the sound “Mama.” It’s directed everywhere, not just at his mother. And he just keeps jabbering. Banging toys together. Waving. Clapping his hands. The pediatrician recently told the Doozer that it was his job as the older brother to teach Little Brother these maneuvers. And he’s really taken to the new role. He’s quite a teacher. It’s like they don’t even need me anymore. I’ll try not to dwell on that notion, either.

Which is also fascinating, because I can clearly recall the time, not so long ago, when the Doozer was just a lump himself, shakily beginning to test out these very skills and functions, developing his own repertoire of moves and maneuvers.

So I guess we have to start babyproofing. We’ve done none of it. Or at least none that seems to be advised. They advise quite a lot. They. What do they know anyway? Maybe it’s better to make the place a little less kid-friendly, restrict their movements. Keep them down. Teach them to fear grabbing stuff and being exploratory. Being mobile. Convince them they should just sit still and chill out. Because someday, like when they get to be my age, say, they will relish the rare opportunities to sit still and not be mobile, to be lazy. Inactive. You cannot convey the importance, or true beauty of this to a child. They are clueless on this count. They just want to move and do stuff all the time.

Chill. Out. Seriously. You’ve got plenty of time. It’s like I’ve suddenly started speaking Klingon and they have no way to process or take in this suggestion. They just look at me blankly or with those goofy, off-kilter smiles. And take off again. Please, man. Sit down. Relax.

Oh. Never mind. Just try not to maim yourselves, please.

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