Monday, January 14, 2013

Crawl, then walk, then mow

“Babe, wake up!  You’re going to want to see this,” my wife Kara said, rousting me out of a slumber that had only just begun.

“I really think you’re wrong about that,” I mumbled.

I opened my eyes to see her standing there with our youngest son Zack wriggling in her arms.  He squealed and smiled when I lifted the blanket off my head, drafting me for my first-ever game of involuntary peek-a-boo.

“Dude, I just saw that guy like an hour ago,” I said, rolling back over.  I’d given Zack a bottle at 6am, plunked him in his crib and crawled back into bed, resting easy with the knowledge that the next time somebody cried, it was Kara’s problem.  These days, that’s the closest we can get to sleeping in on a Saturday.

“Well, check this out,” Kara said, placing Zack on the floor.  Off he went – one hand, other hand, one knee, other knee, creakily moving forward on his own for the first time in his life.  Well, the second time.  I slept through the first one, which would make me sad except that, dude, I was sleeping.

We clapped and cheered as drool leaked from his proud grin.

We have family friends who tried to delay their babies’ crawling as long as possible, handing everything to the child so that it wouldn’t feel the need to move.  This strategy, of course, failed.  They should have tried handing it a bag of Doritos and a remote control, which have been proven wildly successful at immobilizing adults.

When you tell people that your baby has become mobile, they say things like, “Oh, you’re in for it now!” as if things were so peachy before.  After having gone through this twice, it seems to me that parenting an infant is a gradual process of life getting easier every day.  Each milestone passed is something to be cheered, assuming you’ve put foam rubber on every corner in the house.  

I didn’t get enough sleep to lock in any memories from our sons’ earliest days, so it’s instructive to see what my sister Amy and her wife Jaime are going through with their daughter, born on Thanksgiving Day.

“She hasn’t taken a break from eating in like three weeks.  We don’t sleep anymore.  This is insane,” Amy reported.

“It gets so much easier.  Every day with your baby is the worst one you’ll ever have,” I told her.  It sounded more uplifting in my head.  

“Aww, I hope you’ll treasure every moment.  I wish my kids were still that size,” strangers will say to me, ogling Zack in his stroller.  They say this because they’ve forgotten what it’s like to spend time with a human whose sole method of communication is screaming until you figure out why.

Already, though, things are improving.  Zack has been crawling for all of two days now, and he’s instantly more pleasant to spend time with.  If he wants to yank on the dog’s tail, well, he just goes and gives it a yank.  The more he can do for himself, the happier we all are.  Except maybe the dog.

People wax nostalgic about infants because it’s fun to look back at pictures and see a beautiful little person beginning to emerge.  But I wonder if they remember what it’s like to hang out with an actual baby for more than an afternoon.  Fulfilling, sure.  Beautiful, meaningful, yes.  Fun, no.  And often stinky.

But we’ve crawled around a big corner at our house, and hopefully, things will just keep getting easier from here.

Keep on truckin’, Zack.  Grow!  Walk!  Talk!  Learn to pour your own cereal!  Then let’s talk about mowing the lawn.

You can open Mike Todd’s bag of Doritos at

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