Sunday, March 02, 2008

Up

Seven months is almost eight, and le Petit is now standing. He pulls himself up now with ease by leaning against the footstool in his bedroom. Each time he does it he grins at me all self-satisfied as if to say, "Look, ma! Don't you see? Up is cool! Up is the new crawl!" And although it throws open a whole new realm of ouch, I can't help but share his enthusiasm.

No one showed him Up and said, "Hey, kid, this is where you gotta be in a few months." I never put the idea in his head, or not on purpose anyway, though I may have left a few tantalizing objects just out of reach, like a magazine or my cell phone. No, I'm convinced the idea came out of the blue, and now it obsesses him. No matter where we put him down, his room, his playpen, or his crib, down must become Up.

He scans the terrain for handholds. Anything will do. When I lie down next to him, he plants a palm in my eye and firmly grabs my nose. Mom is not a satisfactory jungle gym, however, as I tend to wriggle and cry "ouch!" at inconvenient moments.

Once Up, he's not sure what to do next. Sometimes he glimpses some El Dorado on a higher shelf and starts plotting some acrobatics which he's thankfully still not capable of. Sometimes he sways back and forth and eventually falls, although he's beginning to learn the graceful descent.

He will now grab both my hands and pull himself Up, then take some tentative steps forward. He's far from walking independently, but the idea is already forming.

I shake my head and marvel at how all these basics of being human -- movement, language, walking upright -- are all somehow there, innate, programmed to unfold in the first year or two of life. Up is all le Petit; I have nothing to do with it. I'm just behind him, full of worry and wonder, arms outstretched and ready to catch.

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