Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Paradox of the Mobile Baby

As Ryan is getting the hang of crawling and as he learns to pull himself up on things and stand up on his own, I am looking forward with both delight and trepidation to his “mobile months”.

I am delighted that with his mobility comes a much greater ability to amuse himself. Now that he can get to toys that he wants and doesn’t get himself stuck sitting on his own feet, he can happily entertain himself for hours without needing me hovering over him to get him playthings or rescue him from himself. He’ll sit in front of his ball tower and contentedly roll ball after ball down the ramp, or sit in front of the TV cabinet tugging determinedly at the knobs (which Daddy has tied together so the doors won’t open) trying to get inside, or fwap at his big inflatable ball and giggle at the vibrations. He’ll spin the wheels of his truck for a while, then crawl over to his beads and chew on them for a bit, then scoot over to one of his beloved spitrags and lie on the floor chewing on that and kicking his feet up in the air. Or he’ll kneel in front of the playpen wall and laboriously pull himself up with both hands, then let go with one hand and swing back and forth like a gate until he falls on his backside – then he’ll start the process all over again.

But the trepidation part comes when I realize that despite the fact that he no longer needs me to keep him entertained all the time, he does need me to protect him from himself now! When he’s in the Pack & Play or the playpen, the worst he can do to himself is pinch his finger with a toy or fall over and kosh his noggin. But in the living room, or the nursery, or the yard, I can’t take my eyes off him for a second or he’ll be unplugging a lamp, strangling himself with an extension cord, knocking over a chair, or a hundred other unimaginable accidents. Even with the best babyproofing in the world, a big, strong, curious baby like Ryan will find trouble to get into anywhere. We can put outlet protectors on every socket and wind power cords onto little plastic reels, but Ryan is strong enough to knock over nearly any piece of furniture in the house and take those power cords with it. He’s fascinated by anything electronic with lights and buttons so the computer CPUs, the air conditioners, an unattended digital camera or phone or remote control, all such toys are subject to search and seizure by the little man. And any door or cabinet or secret cupboard must and WILL be opened and explored.

And such curiosity is to be encouraged – as long as it can be done safely. Which is why I will have to keep careful watch on him every waking moment. He may not need me as a playmate right now, but he certainly needs me as a security guard!

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