Wednesday, 23 February 2011
It's a Jump to the Left...
Walking. It's a big thing. Tricky, too, for us bipeds. It's also one of those "big parental moments" that you always hear about. Any number of adverts, TV shows, movies and novels all hype up the excitement of Baby's First Steps(tm). It's also one of those moments that in real life are surprisingly hard to identify. Babies don't just one day decide to get up and walk (or at least Alex didn't). Instead, it's a gradual thing.
First off is cruising. (For those who don't know, cruising when babies do it is walking around whilst supporting yourself on the furniture. It should not be confused with any other activities of the same name but less innocence.) Cruising is practice walking and involves a great deal of falling over. Thankfully babies seem to bounce remarkably well (I think it's all the padding in their nappies), so the repeated splats are nothing to worries about. Cruising is also the point at which you realise that anything lower than waist height is no longer safe. Books in bookshelves? Whipped off and gummed to death. Cats in baskets? Grabbed. Plates of food on side tables? Smeared into the carpet. The lower shelves of your house quickly become homes for toys and unbreakable things. (Or ornaments you don't like that you have been given by well meaning relatives with sizeable inheritances and limited life expectancies who you do not wish to offend by throwing their gifts out.)
Walking is after cruising, obviously enough, but where in the great wobbly transition between the two are Baby's First Steps(tm)? Is that unsupported lurch from couch to chair a step? How about that stagger then splat he managed whilst going for the cat? In truth, it's probably whatever you, as a parent, choose it to be. For Nic and me, it was Alex stumble-falling between us as we sat on the floor in the hall, five feet apart, arms outstretched to catch him. That'll do for me.
And Then a Step to the Right...
Once walking is achieved, life becomes at once easier and more difficult. Easier because you can just plop your child down and let them walk about themselves. Harder because the little buggers are surprisingly speedy and have absolutely no sense whatsoever. As far as I can tell, Alex's thought processes in those early walking days went like this:
"Oh! What's this? I guess I'll just whoah!" *whamp* "OK, that wasn't what I expected. How about if I do this?" *whump* "Hmmm, interesting...."
Much like cruising, the bumps and bashes from falling over while learning to walk seem to cause more concern for parents than babies. That said, even Alex cried when he did a forward flip off the couch and onto the floor, although that was mostly due to dropping his raisins.
One of the best things about Alex learning to walk is that he's now learnt the concept of holding hands. If he wants to show you something, he'll come over and hold out his hand for you to take before leading you over to it. (It's usually the fridge (milk) or the cupboard (raisins).) That's kind of lovely.
With Your Hands on Your Hips...
Alex's ability to express himself has come on in leaps and bounds as well. Partly it's speech. (Again, Baby's First Words(tm) are impossible to pinpoint timing wise, although we can say with some certainty that Alex's first word was cat, just not when he said it.) Simply being able to form "yes" or "no" responses (by nodding and going "ayh" for the former, shaking one's head and going "nonono" for the latter) to questions is a massive improvement over screaming. It's more relaxing for parents and more useful for Alex, as we're able to understand what he wants much quicker. We're obviously still limited somewhat by vocabulary (yes, no, cat, Dada, Mama, quack quack, milch, more milch, MORE MILCH!, banana, hello, bye-bye, car, shoes, teeth, cheese and book being about the current limit) but it's surprising how much you can understand vague grunts coupled with gestures and practice.
Alex also understands an awful lot more these days. It's kind of surprising, really. You'll be wittering away to him when he will suddenly do what you've asked him, even if it's a complicated task. Taking things out of the washing machine and hanging them on the rack, for example. OK, he doesn't make a great job of it (flat is not a concept he has yet grasped), but that he makes a job of it at all is what's impressive. It's remarkable to watch.
It does also mean we have to watch what we say now too! No more casual mentions of the word "banana". Not unless you want a howling child.
You Bring Your Knees in Tight...
Yeah, I don't have much for this line, other than Alex still having tickly knees. Should have thought this whole timewarp theme through before I started it.
But it's the Pelvic Thrusts That Really Drive You Insa-a-a-aane...
They don't warn you about the pelvic thrusts. They really don't. It's obviously just some "I'm all warm, comfy, safe and happy" response, but dear God, it's weird. It's like being humped by a scotty dog in dungarees! Make it stop! Please!
Let's Do The Time Warp Again!
Friday, 4 February 2011
It occurred to me that this blog could really do with some sort of rounding off post(s). Some sort of "in hindsight" kind of thing, addressing some of the issues I talked about back when I actually talked about anything. So that's what this is. A recap and review. A bit of a catch up will follow in a later post.
The Only Thing We Have to Fear...
Reading back through these posts, the first thing that jumps out at me is, "Gosh, I worried about everything, didn't I?" I suspect that barely constrained terror is the natural state for first time new parents (and maybe second, third, fourth or even more-th new parents), so it's not that I feel silly about it. It's just noticeable how much it influenced my thoughts back then.
I can't really say when the worry faded. I guess it was a gradual thing. Slowly you begin to see that your child is doing well, that you haven't dropped them on their head (or at least not from any significant height - falling off the couch doesn't count) and that they are happy and healthy. (At least, assuming nothing horrible has happened. That it didn't is something I'm eternally grateful for.) You become better at distinguishing between "there's something horribly wrong!" and "I want to touch the cat!" cries. You begin to understand your child's routine and act upon it. (He's getting grumpy + it's 12:30 = nap time.) Play becomes fun for both parties, some of the time. (Other times, man, you just don't want to have to fetch that ball from under the seat once more.)
Obviously there are still worries. Is it safe to let him play with a hoover? (Probably not, but it's much less hassle than not letting him do so!) How do we get him to sleep past 5:30am? (No idea.) Is he big enough to play on the slide? (Yes, sort of.) But somehow, they are lesser worries. The elephant of terror that came and squatted in my guts for the first 9 months of Alex's life has upped and buggered off. Yes, it's stressful. Yes, you worry. But it's less oppressive. Less all encompassing. Thank god.
And Another Thing...
The other thing I notice a lot of in my old posts is sleep, or the lack thereof. That's still an issue. Alex's sleep has been somewhat erratic for quite a while now. Basically he has been tending to wake up between 5am and 5:30am. We've tried a bunch of things (which I'll cover in the catch up post), but nothing has really taken. I guess that a lack of sleep is just a function of parenthood. For anyone expecting, get your shut eye in now! People are not exaggerating when they say you'll be more tired than you've ever been. What are you doing even reading this? Get to bed! Now!