I like to think that Emmalee is a smart baby. She seems to know lots of things. For instance, you can ask her, “Emmalee, where’s the fan?” and she will look right at it. You can replace the word fan with at least 30 other household objects that she knows about and she’ll look at those things too. You can tell her, “Emmalee, kick your feet” and she will kick her feet. You can ask her, “Emmalee, where’s Mommy’s nose?” and she will try to pull my nose off my face. So she knows things. But, that was pretty much the extent of what she could do for some time. She could be smart and that was it.
When you have a baby, they tell you that you should give your baby “tummy time” everyday. This means that you put your baby on the floor on their tummy and let them flail around a bit. After awhile, this should help them to strengthen their neck, leg and arm muscles in preparation for crawling. Well, Emma’s tummy time consisted of her screaming angrily for a few minutes until I picked her back up. She just wasn’t into it. And I didn’t see the harm in waiting to do tummy time until she was ready. Plus, this was pre “cry it out” so I couldn’t stand to let her cry for more than a minute or two. But Emma kept getting older and older and she still wouldn’t participate in tummy time. Finally, at about 6 months, she was able to sit up on her own but only if you sat her up and put a pillow behind her. Two months later the pillow wasn’t necessary anymore but you still had to sit her up or else she’d just lie on her back like an overturned, helpless turtle. At this point I began to suspect that I had a very lazy child.
At nine months Emmalee would participate a little more actively in tummy time. She would lift her upper body and propel herself backwards with her arms, but as she watched the object in front of her that she wanted get further and further away she would become frustrated and cry. This was post “cry it out” so I’d let her work at it for a bit, but eventually gave in and grabbed her up. It seemed to be hopeless. No matter how much time she spent on her tummy, no matter how many times I tried to prop her knees up underneath her, she just wasn’t going to crawl.
Just when I started to accept the fact that I was most likely going to have to carry her to kindergarten, Emmalee suddenly and rather unexpectedly crawled at ten months, a little over a week ago. It really wasn’t a slow process. One evening in the playroom floor she sort of “hopped” her knees and made some forward progress. By the next afternoon she was crawling one knee at a time and within a few days she was an expert crawler, just like that.
And now I feel that I have entered a whole new chapter of parenting. Suddenly all the baby proofing sections of the books apply to me. I have a crawler, a baby on the go. In some ways it is wonderful. Emmalee seems much happier now that she can explore on her own. The new sense of independence seems to suit her nicely. She can crawl to whatever she is interested in. But there are down sides to this new stage. For one, I am now much more concerned about the cleanliness of the floors. Vacuuming and mopping used to be chores that I could put off, but not anymore now that I have a baby with telescopic vision who can see the tiniest hint of fuzz or spec of dirt and use her also newly mastered pincer grip to pick it up and give it a taste. Before she could crawl I really only had to make sure that Emma had a hazard free three foot radius when setting her down. Now that she’s mobile an entire new world of dangers has emerged. You wouldn’t believe how many different ways a baby could potentially perish in what used to seem like a relatively safe home. There are sharp corners that could poke an eye out, electrical outlets that can fry little brains, cords that could strangle, television stands and book cases that could topple and crush, dog bowls that could drown… it goes on and on. And after the whole car seat fiasco I’m especially sensitive to ways my sweet baby could be injured (though I don’t see any potential for decapitation this time). But the worst new obstacle crawling has thrown at me? Picture taking. Emmalee is intrigued by the camera and as soon as I put it in front of her she starts crawling right for it. Not the best angles, I’m afraid. So the pictures of Emmalee sitting pretty with a big smile on her face could very well be a thing of the past, at least for awhile.
So she’s crawling. Finally. But I still suspect she’s lazy. She won’t get to shed that title until she starts holding her own bottle.