Mobile Phoney

Jack has begun crawling. It’s not a graceful crawl, such as the practiced, polished crawl of an infant several weeks or months his senior. No, at seven-ish months, his is the irregular, jerky, no-more-than-a-second-from-putting-his-face-into-the-floor crawl of one who has not yet mastered the craft.

What’s fascinating is how quickly babies go from being content with sitting in someone’s arms indefinitely to Needing To Go Somewhere Urgently. Jack first tried the log roll as a means of locomotion. As you’d imagine, he just rolled over and over until he got within a chubby arm’s length of whatever it was that caught his eye. With his newfound crawling ability, he’s decided that he will now be the primary navigator on his journey through life. Or, seemingly, over whatever floor we haven’t cleaned in a while. Now, some parents might freak out and see this as a reason to clean their floors. But we’re smart, see? We see Jack as a little baby Roomba who will, in time, sweep up whatever crumbs we’ve left behind. Or eat them.*

Joshua’s old pediatrician recommended getting on our hands and knees and crawling through our house to see what would be accessible to someone who spends most of his day four inches off the ground. Being the eager, childless parents-to-be that we were then, we did this with equal parts excitement and Grave Fear. This go-round, I remembered to put plugs in the outlets before Jack was born, and we’re leaving most of the rest to fate. I promise it’s not as haphazard as it sounds — I’m with Jack all day and I only leave him unattended in his crib, high chair, or activity center where there’s nothing unsafe.**

The path from sessile sloth to mobile menace is astonishingly brief, and to me, it illumines man’s timeless quest to see what’s out there.*** I’ve now seen both of my children make this transition. It isn’t just curiosity that drives them to move, else they’d be content to be carried thence. No, it’s an internal need to explore, something coded right into their genes. Joshua, now fully mobile for quite some time, will overcome a sometimes crippling shyness in the interest of scoping out a new museum, store, library, you name it. He’s so moved to see what’s there, that he’ll forget, albeit briefly, that he’s terrified to leave sight or side of me. Jack’s exploratory fire has just been kindled, and with massive will, he overcomes his confused muscles’ spasmody to just crawl a few paces in a particular direction — his direction. Yeah, that direction ends, more often than not, with his head on the floor, but every now and then, he gets Somewhere New, even if Somewhere New is just a few feet from Somewhere Old.

I know that, a year from now, he’ll [probably] be walking (er, toddling) and wreaking Toddler Brand ruination upon my house. This swiftly passing moment of crawling will be firmly ensconced in the firmament of the Good Old Days. For now, though, mine is to marvel as another human gets his land legs under him for the first time. Until they slide out from under him and he face-plants for, like, the fiftieth time in a row.

*I really should vacuum.

**I really should move the box of wood screws somewhere higher.

***I’m reading way too much into this.

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