Known Johnson

April 2, 2006

The art of growing

Filed under: General — Tom @ 10:06 pm

Amanda’s crawling forward now, which presents a whole new set of complications that were not as pervasive as they had been in her backwards-crawling phase. Before, she would randomly bump into things, pop herself up, and enjoy whatever toy or non-toy item she had come upon, as if it were a little treasure she uncovered as she bulldozed, backwards, blindly around the living room. We could keep most baby-dangerous items out of her way – her travels took her in a roughly 5-foot diameter circle, so just keeping a 10′ x 10′ square free of undesirable things worked just fine. Oh, she might want to go over there, but her very basic means of navigation pretty much prevented her from getting anywhere she actually wanted to go. Now, however, she can set her sights on a target and make a surprisingly quick sprint for it. So the past week and a half has been filled with a lot of comments like “No, no, no, you can’t eat the remote control” (or fill in practically any other item that might be within reach in a common living room,) followed quickly by leaps to prevent her from smacking her forehead into things that her desire-narrowed gaze limited her from seeing.

If that weren’t enough, she has decided simultaneously that she wants to stand. So she shuffles over to whatever she wants and has decided that whatever it is, it’s good enough to help her stand. (It’s not.) So we find her grasping at two-inch tall items and attempting to stand, which results in some sadly comical situations where the frustrations of not being able to stand up result in a quivering four-limbed crouch over said item. On the flip side, she will often find items that are just high enough to support her, but unfortunately she only possesses the most minimal of skills in the art of standing. So she may pull herself up on the coffee table, but she has not figured out that she cannot continue to stand without being in touch with the coffee table, which has resulted in innumerable tumbles – luckily harmless – to the floor 18 inches below. That’s not to say it hasn’t been traumatic to her – there have been plenty of sudden screaming fits powered more by sheer shock than actual pain.

Add to all this that she has one more major development going on: teething. The Creator may have a master plan, but that doesn’t mean He’s not up for throwing a few jokes in while He’s at it. Last Sunday, exhausted from a weekend of chasing Amanda around and preventing falls, she seemed particularly cranky. Neither of us could really figure out why, thinking maybe she was simple extra exhausted from all the standing and falling action she had seen that weekend. Monday morning, when Alissa dropped her off at my parents for the day, Amanda grasped Alissa’s hand and gnawed on a finger with what should have been her usual gummy mouth. But it wasn’t- instead of soft tissue, Amanda dug in with a tiny corner of her lower left front tooth. On top of all that falling and bumping around, she had a tiny sharp tooth slowly working its way to the surface. A couple of days of anxious gnawing and nearly inconsolable crying, the top of the tooth has made an appearance.

And wouldn’t you know it but almost exactly a week later the same routine is happening again – agitation, crankiness, unstoppable crying. And sure enough, right next to last week’s tooth is the very tiny tip of another one. What’s fun is that this took place right in the middle of Mervyn’s while Alissa was trying to exchange some clothes. Amid all the shoppers and the clothesracks, with Alissa tucked away in a dressing room trying on jeans, I’m nervously trying to calm an uncalmable baby who suddenly went into meltdown. Her pacifier wasn’t working, her toys weren’t working, sacrificial fingers weren’t working. She writhed and contorted in her stroller, hollering, face turning bright red, tears welling in her anguished eyes. I rocked her back and forth in the stroller, twirled her around the way she likes, begged, pleaded, all to no avail. She simply wailed and wailed. I looked around a few times, worried I’d see those faces – you know the faces I’m talking about. The “he beats his baby” faces. One older mom walked slowly past, quickly examined the very unhappy Amanda, and gave me the sly smile of someone who’d been there before. When Alissa found what she wanted, I handed off her returnables and made a beeline for the exit just to get out of there.

I approached the doors just as a mother and her young daughter rounded a circular rack, arms overburdened with piles of clothes. They continued on to another rack of clothing, passing close by one of the security sensor towers just as I reached them with Amanda’s stroller. Screaming baby for a moment took a backseat in my mind as an alarm sounded and an automated voice streamed out of speakers above. “Warning! You have activated the store’s security system. Please return to the store and see a sales associate.” Amanda’s wailing brought me back to reality before I could even ponder stopping. I continued past the towers, out one set of automatic doors and then just as quickly out the other. If I looked suspicious, so be it – I needed out of that store and away from all that cacophony. I did my best to appear casual, hoping that security wouldn’t come barrelling out of the doors to tackle me, hoping that somehow a tagged item from the store didn’t happen to have attached itself to Amanda’s stroller. Amanda’s crying and hollering took precedence for the moment.

Within a minute of leaving the door, Amanda’s cries went silent, and she peered curiously out at the parking lot from her stroller, enjoying the strange scenery and the calm and the sunshine.

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