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birds of a feather

On one of our safaris in Kenya, we visited a tribe of Maasai. These warriors live in mud-and-stick dwellings under the open skies of the African plains. When the youths complete their rites of passage, they marry and leave their parental homestead to start a new settlement. This tradition produces a curious cyclical effect: because the young tribesmen all embark upon married life around the same time, their kids also tend to be born one right after another. Our globetrotting lifestyle could not be much further removed from the lives of the Maasai, but even though we are far away from many of our friends, in a way we too feel like we belong to a tribe. Like tends to attract like, and now that we have started filling our social media posts with baby updates and photos, we have also become keenly aware of just how many friends we have who are going through the same stages of parenthood at roughly the same time as us. 

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Having scrolled through several sets of photos of smiling but not quite independently upright 4-month-olds, we could not resist adding a few pictures of our own pride and joy to the mix. Munchkin marked four months on Monday and this was a big month for him. He figured out how to roll from front to back very early on, but had not perfected the roll in reverse until we stopped swaddling and put him to sleep alone in his crib. Within days he had mastered his back-to-front roll so thoroughly that we stopped putting him down on his back altogether. Not only does he prefer to sleep on his stomach, but he also rolls over so quickly that when placed on his back he flips to his tummy before we walk out of the room.

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One of the reasons we started sleep training so early is that we wanted to make sure we could rule out teething pain as a possible reason for his cries. It will take many months before we actually see any enamel, but if the amount of drool he now produces is any indication, the process has definitely begun. Munchkin’s hands have also grown a lot more active and purposeful. He grabs onto his toys and pulls them towards his mouth, though he rarely gnaws on them for very long. If we allow him to pull one of our fingers into his mouth, however, he’ll happily spend ten minutes grinding his gums on it.

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Munchkin still has a ways to go before he can sit and stand on his own, though he very much enjoys practicing both by holding onto our fingers. Crawling, on the other hand, seems to be very much in our near future. The last handful of days he has begun to inch forward laboriously, lifting his bum high in the air before scooting forward an inch or two at a time. This worming is still more exploratory than intentional, but clearly the days when we could put him down unattended for a moment are numbered.

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In Nairobi, we were one of only a handful of couples in our social circle who did not have very young kids. Now that we too have a little tyke to raise, we have come to appreciate all the more our friends with infants and toddlers. Being able to swap photos and stories, and to sound out others for parenting advice is nice. But what we value most is that new parents literally inhabit our reality in a way that others don’t. The knowledge that even when we are hanging out together, we are usually not fully present mentally and the understanding that we might have to abandon a conversation or abruptly head home without any warning — these are the hallmarks of our new tribe.

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