You are really turning into a little man. Apparently there was a time when you would look around aimlessly, and flail your arms about wildly, and we would feel lucky to catch your gaze and pretend it was something meaningful. What, really? It seems unbelievable, given how attentive and engaged with your surroundings you are now. I gather it’s a bit of a mixed blessing for you — whereas before car trips were ideal opportunities for you to catch up on rest, now you hesitate to fall asleep lest you miss all the wonderful scenery. I can see the questions forming your little brain, as rudimentary as they must be. I greatly look forward to the day you can finally start to ask them — and never stop.
Your new attentiveness makes it all the more fun to show you off. And you can be such the little flirt. You exchange googly eyes on the bus with whomever is lucky enough to catch them. The best was on Halloween, when we carried you down the street in your stunning hand-made-by-mom Max costume. The chill in the air gave you a pair of rosy cheeks, and with your crown and tail you were about the most adorable thing ever. If it weren’t for the copious amounts of candy being bandied about, there would have been a serious risk of someone eating you up.
At your last check-up, they shot you up with vaccines, to which I hear you reacted admirably, and determined you to be a very healthy, very strong baby, the latter evidenced by your continuous attempts to do baby crunches. After watching you do this every time we lay you down, we figured maybe you wanted to sit up. So we sat you up, stepped back, and much to our shock and wonder, you stayed that way. You looked back at us as if to say, “See, guys, I know what I’m doing!” At which point you flopped right back down, or at least flopped into our arms, because it turns out you don’t really know what you’re doing. We continue to give you sitting-up practice, and I hear it’s quite an achievement for a baby your age. Don’t rest on your laurels yet, boy, there are a few more steps to go before you get your MacArthur grant.
Your other big trick is finally becoming comfortable sleeping on your belly. We never set you up that way — you’re always left on your back — but in your perpetual nighttime wrangling you always flip over. It’s only in the last few days when you’ve realized you’re okay with that. We’ll come in in the mornings, alerted not by cries but by harmless babbling, to find you on your belly, smiling. You’ll then lift yourself into a Cobra yoga move, and grin in a way that says “I’m ready for the day, Dad!” If it’s early enough, which it usually is, you and I will go hang in the living room, playing on our bellies, listening to music, while Mom catches up on her sleep.
I was at a party this month — strange in any season, and all the more so now that I’m a dad — and after a few gimlets I got to rambling. I steered the conversation to you — probably in a manner more obvious than I would like to believe — and one thing in particular that I often think about. Whenever you and I horse around, I have it in the back of my mind that I’m not only doing this because it’s fun, but also to condition you, early on, to enjoy this kind of horsing around. Right now, my hypothesis goes, you’re a blank slate, and if I’m able to brand being tossed in the air, or hung upside down, as FUN, then both of our lives will be easier going forward. I have no idea about the validity of this theory. The alternative is that maybe you’re wired to like it, perhaps by the same genes that make me wired to like it. Perhaps someday we’ll throw back some gimlets together and try to figure it out.
Probably my favorite horsing around move is my version of the clean-and-jerk: lean over while you’re laying down or sitting up, grab your two hands in mine, quickly-but-not-too-quickly pull you up, let go right before you hit the apex, and catch you around your chest just as you’re coming down. Or I do a slight variation: stay attached to one hand, let go of the other, and catch you by throwing my right arm under your butt so you end up in a sitting position. It’s great fun, and it keeps us both entertained, but I wonder if I’m going to regret this before to long, when you have the ability to ask for “just one more time, Dad!”