PHRAGMENTS FROM PHYLLIS: Crawl before you walk

  • Thursday, March 6, 2014

We spent a delightful weekend with our youngest granddaughter, 14-month-old Pearce, and I was reminded that with babies everything old is new again – and they are taking it all in.

Liz and Vince headed to Charleston for a birthday celebration, so Pearce was ours from Thursday night until Sunday afternoon. And watching her little mind absorb everything in her path is mind-boggling.

Pearce is trying to walk. Well, her family is trying to get her to walk. I had forgotten how cute – and funny – toddlers can be as they work on getting their “sea legs,” so to speak. Pearce spreads her legs out to give herself the firmest base, and then she will slowly move to a standing position. Sometimes she just stands there for several seconds, enjoying her newfound ability to eat or hold a toy while also maintaining an upright position. As she teeters between standing and falling, about half the time she decides sitting makes more sense than anything else. The other half of the time, she'll take three or four little steps and then “fall” into a sitting position or into a crawling stance.

It interests me that once babies begin to take steps on two legs, they seem finally to “get it” with regard to crawling on all fours. Pearce, in the past, would crawl by moving forward on one knee, assisted by pushing off with the opposite foot. The result is a lopsided movement – adorable but, well, odd. Now that she can toddle on two feet, she has become quite adept at crawling in a very coordinated movement on all fours. And when she tires of that, or falls forward on her hands from that standing position, she “walks” on all fours – faster, at the moment, than walking on 2 feet. It all reminded me that all three of my kids had their own unique way of crawling. One mostly crab-walked on her back, while another performed the one-legged push and another would sit and scoot on her bottom. They, too, finally understood “normal” crawling only after they walked.

Another new feature on this visit was laughing. Pearce has smiled a lot and laughed some, but this time was different. One day she and I were sitting on the couch, and I said something which, for whatever reason, struck her as funny. This little baby looked at me, threw her head back and guffawed. It was a hearty belly laugh that started in her eyes and spread to her mouth and then involved her whole body. The only other time I've seen her do this is when someone tickles her – or “threatens” to tickle her. Like my kids, after the first tickle, all you have to do is move your hand near her neck, and she begins to giggle.

Meanwhile, sippy cups have come a long way, but I think it would be helpful if manufacturers would stick to one delivery system. You teach a kid to turn up a cup to sip, then the next cup has a straw that doesn't work so well if you turn it up to drink. It has to be confusing.

Mealtime is an experience with this age anyway. Pearce wants no part in being fed by someone else. She wants to do it herself. And this child can put away some food. For someone so tiny – she's in the first percentile on the weight scale – she can eat. Sunday morning, she ate two eggs, one-and-a-half bananas, three servings of green beans, two slices of turkey, a couple of fries and a tube of baby food. If I ate like that, I'd weigh 300 pounds.

All in all, she was very content with us for the weekend. Liz keeps threatening to send her to us each night, because for some reason she sleeps very well for us. We put her to bed around 7 p.m., and she sleeps until nearly 7 a.m. without a peep. This time was no exception.

And while for the first two days she'd cry if I were out of sight, by the third day, if Tom left the room, she would cry in a way previously reserved for her Papa when he walks away.

But she drew the line on Sunday. I was to teach Sunday School, so I suggested Pearce had been in the nursery at our church before. “She'll be fine,” I said. Tom and I did agree that if things didn't work out, he'd keep her during that hour. We walked into the nursery, and I tried to put her on the floor. She began to wail. I gave her a bottle, and as long as I held her, she was fine. Oh, I admit, it was nap time, so that didn't help. At home, I could put her in the crib and walk away, but the nursery worker had other kids to contend with. So Tom decided he'd stay and see if he could get her to sleep.

Later, he would admit that he still is a sucker for a sleeping baby on his shoulder. He rocked her, and she slept through the entire Sunday School hour. “There's nothing like that feeling,” he said fondly.

Well played, Baby Cakes, well played.

Aiken Standard

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