Friday, March 14, 2008

The Evolution of Crawl

I try to give little heed to infant development charts telling me exactly when my children "should be able to" walk, speak in full sentences, be potty-trained, have a full head of hair, etc. As long as the doctor and my better judgment tell me they're healthy and happy, I don't want to get caught up in that game that consumes the greater part of new-mother small talk:

"Hi. Oh your baby's so cute. How old?"

"Eight months. Yours?"

"Oh my gosh! Eight and a half months! Is yours sleeping through the night yet? Eating solid foods? Holding a spoon? Does she cry with a babysitter? Can she say "Mama" and "Dada" yet? Does she walk? Does she talk? Does she recite poetry and play the violin and skip a grade in math every year?"

That's the gist of it, at least. Honestly, small talk doesn't bother me, but perhaps I've been immersed in an exceedingly competitive society for a little too long... it's hard not to compare my kids with other kids, especially when everyone around me is doing it for me anyway. I guess I've just seen a glimpse of how the constant comparisons and pressure to excel burden children to the extent that by young adulthood, feelings of self-esteem are fleeting, at best. I've spoken with a college professor here who claims that, according to her students, she was the very first person who'd ever told them they are special, unique, and valuable. I suppose that's one of the disadvantages of being one in 1.4 billion. It is mighty difficult to stand out and, well, it's downright discouraged in this society anyhow. Plus, with hundreds willing to replace you should you fall out of line, the possibility of making a unique contribution to your community and world seems quite grim.

This is one of the many reasons that when real freedom of religion is introduced to the country, it will take like wildfire to the masses. The knowledge that we are unique, capable, talented, and loved by a Father in Heaven, and that we each have a mission on earth only we can fulfill-- wow! What a liberating, comforting, inspiring message. I'm as different as can be in this society, being a foreigner who stays at home instead of working and has two kids instead of one, but I still have days on which I wonder if I'm doing anything special or worthwhile, or if I'm qualified to do worthwhile things. Yes, I believe we all need that reassurance that we didn't end up on this planet on accident. Our lives and circumstances are not mere coincidences. There is a tremendous and rewarding goal to be worked toward, and our efforts and contributions as we work toward it, even through the drudgery of daily tasks and routines, are each unique and important. Sheri Dew wrote a book addressing this idea entitled, "No one can take your place." I haven't read it, but I think I should.

Holy tangent. Yes, we are each unique and wonderful and needed, even the babies who aren't crawling by seven months, like my son. Since I already downloaded the pics, I will still address the original topic of this post. Actually, I was a little concerned that he'd just give up on the whole crawling ordeal and go straight to walking in a few months. If you've ever had to rally small muscles and fat limbs wearing slippery clothes on slippery floors, you understand what a trial it's been for Erik to transport himself around our 100% carpet-less apartment.

First he mastered a slithering, waddle-like army crawl, pulling hips up to adjacent shoulders one-at-a-time. Next came the inch worm belly-glide, during which he'd smack his hands down as far forward as possible and shimmy on up, rumpus in the air, culminating with a full-out face-plant. Then repeat. At least these methods motivated me to keep the floors extra clean.

After a couple months of mastering these techniques, he actually could crawl on hands and knees a little (thanks to G & G Larsen's coaching!), but it was wildly inefficient in comparison so rarely attempted. I am pleased to report that over the past week or so, Erik officially crawls, and even while wearing pants! His Buddha belly slides across the ground as he shuffles along, but it still counts. I can't tell you how many people have told me that the longer a baby crawls, the better they'll be in math and reading. No one can tell me why, but yay, Didi has begun that journey! We are so proud.


mmm.chocolate said...

Kudos to Didi! What a cutie! My second son didn't crawl until he was 10 months and now he's a genius at 5. You're smart to not let the "comparisons" get to you. And, I loved your musings on Chinese society. What an amazing experience you are having!

Joe & Christie said...

I am coming to China asap to steal this baby! He looks so much like you did at that age...

blaine and michelle said...

Well, it's official, wittle Ewik may just be the cutest baby I've ever seen (outside of my own two lovelies, of course). And don't forget that Kimberley was well into her ninth month before crawling happened, partially for the same, carptless reason, and she's turned out quite well.

Zugman said...

Deep thoughts, Tiff! Mingled with total cuteness, they make for a powerful post.