There she goes, crawls right passed me and, oops, she finds the basket of dog leashes and collars, tips it into a heap on the ground and waves a jingly handful in the air like a success story. I move her to a different spot which is met—predictably— with kicks, squirms and screams; her way of unmistakably letting me know how insulting the ordinary, already-plaid-with toys seem when juxtaposed against the myriad of forbidden fruit and untouched items. Like dog leashes. Dirty shoes. Keys. Love those keys.
Moments later she finds my basket of magazines and has the cover ripped from a current issue of the New Yorker before I am able to reach for it.
Then on to an area of upmost intrigue: an electrical outlet.
Electrical outlets are seductive in and of themselves, with their tiny nostril-holes that lead to seemingly nowhere, and the fact that they are often coupled with a chord only makes matters more appealing.
But let's back up a bit.
Opal flipped from back-to-front for the first time back in early June. Right away, I pulled out my Dr. Sear's bible, read through and dog-eared the pages on baby-proofing and commenced dutifully to Target to buy the largest combo-pack of baby-proofing items they sold (plug inserts, cabinet locks and door-knob covers). Though it took her nearly another two months to be able to travel on hands-and-knees with any sort of fervor, we were ready with our tiny arsenal of supplies—which, incidentally, helps to stave off at least some of the anxiety in anticipating the unknown.
Flash forward to Thursday, five days ago, when she executed her first real hands-and-knees crawl to Grammy, clunky and uncertain and so exciting that Grammy called me on the spot ( I was getting my hair cut). In the weeks leading up to that, she'd walk her arms forward and leave the knees behind until she wound up flat on her belly, where she'd stay for only moments before pushing herself back up to seated, scooting backwards for a while—because that's what worked—and trying again.
In the five days since her maiden shuffle, she's gone from tentative and wobbly to semi-confident power-crawler. Miraculously no longer unsure of her body's capabilities, she's able to pour her attention into targets and missions and how exactly to get there and complete the task at hand (read: examine and destroy).
Back to the electrical outlets. During breakfast with some friends, the day before yesterday, Opal crawled right up to the outlet, as all of us watched, and plucked out the outlet safety-cover as effortlessly as a golf tee from soft ground, holding it in the air with baby-pride as I swooped over to pick her up and re-locate.
"New puzzle." Said Toby, good friend and baby-whisperer, in his usual unvarnished frankness and driveway-gravel voice. "We give them all these toys to play with that are essentially figure-it-out puzzles and then they find puzzles in the world around them and we say 'no way.'"
Jesse and I had been playing a wonderful little game with her where we put something light on her head and then when she knocked it off, we'd tickle her. So eventually she anticipated the tickle and laughed just as, and then even before, she knocked the thing off her head. A totally adorable game, until she began pulling off her sun-hats, expecting a chuckle.
Ahem... no sweetie, you want to knock this thing off your head but not that thing. I reckon that might be a bit confusing for a little bambino.
I ran out that afternoon and bought a different brand of outlet-plugs, which she also had absolutely no trouble removing.
So the electrical plugs didn't get us very far.
(On the back of Outlet Plug #2 packaging, it says the following, and I quote: Children are curious and tempted to play with anything within their reach. These outlet covers are to be used only as a deterrent. These covers are not a substitute for proper adult supervision. Makes one wonder exactly what had to occur to compel a company to print such a thing directly on their packaging.)
Our dog's vet was just telling me how she paid some guy $100/hour to come and baby-proof her house for her daughter, who is 6 weeks younger than Opal. And that didn't include materials. She thought it was a worthwhile investment.
So...the report from Babyland is that everything has changed yet again.
Gone are the days of making breakfast while Opal sits on the floor with her basket of books, playing contentedly in one spot while I peek around the corner every minute simply to reassure her that I'm there. Gone are the days of setting her on the middle of the bed, where I can still see her from the bathroom, while I brush my teeth or do my business.
Sleeping has also become a very different beast since her newly blossomed skills have emerged. She paces the length of her crib like a tiny jailbird regardless of how exhausted she is. Last night at 2am, after a half hour of audible shuffling, I found her sobbing while sitting cross-legged in the corner of her crib as if she just couldn't quite figure out how to get back to being horizontal. I laid her back down between her bunny and gorilla and she was back to sleep in moments.
The unfamiliarity of it all and the knew level of required focus has me feeling a bit like I'm training for an athletic event that is totally out of my league.
But our little marvel is a sight worth saluting, her wide-fingered, boxy shuffle with the focus of a bird of prey inspires me to keep the video camera within arm's reach at all times. Just as it seemed as if she was born into a new-baby body when she went from a lying-down baby to a sitting-up baby, she now has hatched afresh as a quad-pedal being with the wits and curiosity of a feline with opposable thumbs.