Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rat de tapis

I'm keeping an eye on le Petit as he makes his way around an improvised play mat I constructed for him on the floor of the living room. The throw blanket from the couch is spread out on a layer of beach towels, and I've covered the more dangerous corners of the adjacent furniture with pillows. For someone who still hasn't figured out crawling, he gets around with amazing speed and I periodically have to move him back to the middle of the blanket lest he roll under the couch. He's just found one of his toys, a Halloween pumpkin rattle, and he's shaking his arms and kicking the floor with glee.

Crawling may not be far off. He's figured out that the Next Big Thing has something to do with being on his hands and knees. He spends a lot of time on all fours swaying forward and back as if he wants to launch himself somewhere but doesn't quite dare. From time to time he'll propel his legs forward together like an inchworm, but he never looks too satisfied with the result. Too much effort for so little terrain covered, I can see him thinking to himself, definitely not an efficient mode of transportation.

Today I thought he took some tentative tries at advancing his legs independently, but it may have been accidental. When I cheered him on with an excited, high-pitched "Good job!" and applause, he smiled at me as if I were harmlessly nuts.

This weekend I translated the term "rug rat" for my in-laws. It seems we'll soon have a little rat de tapis on our hands. He's now content to play for a long time on the floor by himself while I watch. As soon as he starts really getting around, however, our relative serenity will end, and I'll have to finish babyproofing pronto.

As le Petit becomes more independent, I'm feeling the pull to go back to work. Now I can imagine and indeed am starting to crave spending a few days a week away from him. The days we spend in our apartment and our neighborhood are beginning to feel less like a pleasant cocoon and more like a fishbowl. I suddenly feel like I'm on the outside of the world looking in.

He's learning to crawl, and I'll soon be learning to tread water as a working mom. I can already predict that he'll get the hang of it first.

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