living on the edge
Though they are not that far behind us, we already miss Munchkin’s infant days, and it’s not just because he was so small, cute, snuggly, and easy to hold. Despite the seemingly continuous feedings and constant diaper changes, life was much simpler. If he cried, we tried to figure out what was wrong and fix it; once calm was restored, we knew we could relax until his next tiny crisis knowing that we had done our parenting duty. One can’t spoil an infant, but now that he’s mobile, parenting has become a lot more hectic and challenging.
At the outset, we were overjoyed every time he did something new or passed a new milestone. Then trepidation crept in. Munchkin rolled over at ten weeks, and even though it took him several more months to figure out how to scoot forward, we could already envision the havoc he was going to wreak once he became mobile. Now that he is on the verge of walking independently, we don’t know whether to cheer and help him practice or try to hold him back.
Some milestones are still worth celebrating, of course. For example, after months of squirming and displeased, whiny grunting nearly every time we dressed or undressed him, Munchkin finally figured out how sleeves work. The change in his demeanor is incredible. Also, his pincer grip practice is paying off. Not only is he a lot more successful at picking up and putting food into his own mouth, but we are also at the point now when we can hand him small objects and feel fairly certain that they won’t wind up on the floor the instant we let go.
We’re far more divided on how to feel about his progress towards walking. On the one hand, his stability while upright has improved dramatically, which is almost certainly a good thing. He can stand independently a lot longer, and now that he is more steady on his feet and can get back down to the floor more gracefully we do not worry about him bumping his head every time he gets up. On the other hand, being more stable has led him to be more daring, which in turn has led to many more bumps and bruises. So really, in terms of injuries, his increased stability is a wash.
Part of the equation is that he seems incapable of sitting still when he is with us. His nanny somehow manages to entertain him for hours on end by simply holding him in her lap. When he’s alone with us, however, he rarely stays still for more than a couple of minutes before clamoring for greater freedom of movement.
All of this is a long way of saying that we have reached our first great parenting dilemma: when and how to say NO. Left to his own devices, Munchkin heads first for our computer cords and the electrical sockets. The telephone (which we’ve unplugged), the bookshelves (which we’ve emptied), the radiators (which are sometimes too hot to touch), and the kitchen cabinets are his other favorite off-limits targets. An impish little grin steals over his face, and he sets off at his fastest crawling pace, especially when he thinks we’re not looking.
At this age, Munchkin should understand the word NO, though of course much of the time he does not listen. Besides, S wants to model positive parenting instead of repeating NO several hundred times a day. So we spend a good part of his wakeful time intercepting, distracting, and redirecting him.