January 30, 2013

Has this ever happened to you?

Yesterday, while I slaved away over a post for you, my dear readers — and while my wife was in our bedroom on a conference call — my nine-month-old son was behind me on the floor, enjoying the company of a makeshift rattle fashioned out of a tape-sealed Cole Haan wallet box and a few hazelnuts.

That is, until he wasn’t.

When my wife finished her conference call she came downstairs and asked where the baby was.  And as I couldn’t immediately spot him, we together went and searched for him, in the living room, in the kitchen, in the laundry room, behind curtains, under tables, beneath sofas, inside electronics cabinets…  But he was no where to be found.

At first we thought this humorous:  after all, a house has finite space, and we had but one level to search:  all the doors were closed and the house is baby proofed, so he couldn’t have gotten far, we reasoned — so our inability to find him was, for a moment at least, a reflection of our own stupidity.  Which we laughed at.

Until we were sure we’d exhausted every space on the first level of the house without finding the boy.  At which point we got very nervous.

I started calling for him with more urgency, but couldn’t hear anything in response.  Until, that is, my wife hushed me and strained to hear something that I wasn’t hearing at all:  the movement of knees on a rug, an elbow pivoting off the ground somewhere.

The only problem was, that sound was coming from upstairs.

Now, our house has a two-tiered staircase that opens out onto the living room and kitchen, with the living room itself built with cathedral ceilings.  And our nine-month-old can’t yet walk, try and try and try as he does.  All of which factored into our thinking about the noise we were hearing upstairs.

So we took to the steps and tentatively made our way to the upper level — and were at once relieved and astounded to find the little tyke in his big brother’s room, munching on a Nerf bullet.

Because it turns out that sometime in the night, while he slept that beautiful baby sleep, he figured out the mechanics of crawling up the stairs.

Previously, he had been able to mount the first stair, but he would invariably fall off, bump his head on the runner beneath, and cry.  Which we’d figured was like touching a hot stove or something and learning to fear fire — only in this case, he was to fear his own age-appropriate clumsiness.  And gravity.

But some lessons just don’t take, and our intrepid 18 lb. explorer, by puzzling things through in his dreams, suddenly understood that if he kept his weight forward and well over his knees, he could adjust for the gravity that had previously confounded him.  And quietly, without fanfare, he put his theory to action — and for his troubles was rewarded with a spongy mouthful of Nerf.

For our part, we were in many respects proud of the little guy.  Beaming, even.  Such initiative!  Such quiet confidence!  Such an adventurous spirit!  Such self-starting precociousness!  Such daring!

We smiled.  And then we ran out immediately and bought a fucking gate.




Posted by Jeff G. @ 9:50am

Comments (21)

  1. Good job, Tanner!

    And, Jeff, we just finished using a gate in our house, so if you want to return yours and take ours, you’re welcome to it.

  2. How cute! (After the terror part is over of course.) Teach him to slide down the stairs on his belly so you don’t have to see the scary spectacle of him taking a header down the stairs. When my youngest was about Tanner’s age, we lived in a Victorian home that had front and back stairs with a landing in between. He kept himself busy crawling up and down the stairs and running around to the kitchen to start over. I put a gate on the landing to keep him from going into the bedrooms or up to the third floor on his own.

  3. Jeff,

    Yeah, it never ceased to amaze me at how fast one of our kids could disappear, even though they were still on all fours.

    I do find your faith in the gate somewhat charming, though. After all, the youngster is a little boy, and boys are predisposed to think of gates as “something that must be climbed, gone around or dug under.”

  4. There were several occasions where I thought I had somehow lost my oldest child through some weird vortex located in the house only to find her playing in some corner where I hadn’t looked.

    Both my kids learned to crawl and walk quickly, although the younger had a little more issue with stairs – at 19 months she’s only now an expert at going down – and twice I heard the horrifying thump-de-thump of my child falling down a flight of stairs. Yes, twice (please don’t report me). She was fine both times, thankfully.

    As for gates, we’ve only got one to the stairs to the basement.

  5. Not sure whether to say congrats, or yikes!

  6. Great story. I have a somewhat similar story, though my 10 month old boy remained at the same elevation.

    Like your little guy, my son is getting ever-so-close to walking. For now, he props himself up behind a wheeled push toy and it used to be that he’d push it as far as a wall or some other obstacle would allow him, then that would be it. He’d plop back down and crawl away to find something else to do. But just last night the boy happily wheeled the toy against the wall, pulled the damn thing back off the wall, straightened it out and continued on his way in another direction, continuing to maneuver all around the living room. When did he figure this out?

    His favorite toy is a saline spray plastic cap, by the way.

  7. Almost the exact scenario. Our second son – hmmm, more parallels – disappeared only to be found upstairs for the first time.

    A word of caution – this same son and I developed a stairs-related game when he started walking. Any time he was coming downstairs and I was coming up I would put out my arms and tell him to “fly to daddy” and he would jump to me, never more than about 4-5 steps. It was great fun.

    Right until he decided that was a game that EVERYONE knew, and he tried it with my wife. Without warning.

  8. My youngest sister refused to make even the pretense of learning to walk. We’d try to stand her up on her feet and she’d pull her knees up to her chest.

    Then one day, she stood up and started running back and forth across the long family room. Running.

    At a tremendously young age (my mom claims 6 mos but my aunts are doubtful), I began to walk. I had not learned to crawl yet. However, I was too young to figure out the art of putting one’s arms out to catch oneself in a face-forward fall, so I acquired many bruises on the forehead. Eventually, I decided to try the crawling thing instead, and then went back to walking later.

    They say that crawling helps us pattern our brains with opposite-side coordination and stuff, which I decidedly do not have. That plus the frequent blows to my soft forehead no doubt explains a lot.

  9. However, I was too young to figure out the art of putting one’s arms out to catch oneself in a face-forward fall, so I acquired many bruises on the forehead.

    I have a cousin whose reflex reaction to falling was to freeze up absolutely. Such paralysis leads to similar bruising. To this day, she never comes ice skating with us…

  10. My oldest learned how to crawl up the stairs at the age of six months. He then taught it to a friend’s baby of the same age; she still hasn’t forgiven us. In any event, I’m glad that you found the little tyke and that he was okay.

  11. There’s something about climbing that is hard-wired even in us advanced primates. Eons of surviving the learning curve have rendered the aversive effect virtually null.

  12. It’s nice to be reminded that much of real life is still going on in a very normal manner.

  13. You solved the problem yourself by buying a gate? WITHOUT government help? What the hell is your problem?

  14. Of all the stuff I’ve read today, I enjoyed this the most and it made me smile. Thanks.

  15. Great story.

    Now, just imagine how you’d fit that greatness into Tweets. But don’t think too long or hard on that, because I pretty much stay the hell away from Twitter. Because good stuff like this just doesn’t fit there.

  16. “Kid went missing. Found upstairs. Need baby gate.”

    You’re right. It’s just not the same.

  17. Glad it all worked out. And yes I do know this feeling. All too well.

  18. An adventurous little tyke. Just wait until you find him a quarter of a mile away. You’ll either hug him or smack him upside the head. I did hugs … really, really tight ones.

  19. Jeff, when my oldest nephew, who just headed off to college last year, was about a year old, I went to my sister’s house to help her with a computer problem. He was sitting next to a cabinet and trying to open it. I pointed this out, and my sister said no problem, it’s got a toddler proof closure.

    We went on working and looked up when we heard the gurgling. In 10 minutes, he had not only opened the cabinet, he had reached in and pulled out 2/3 of a fifth of Jack Daniels, opened it, and was baptizing himself and the surrounding area with Lynchburg’s finest…..

  20. Sorry Tanner. Nice try. But you can’t escape the debt that has been so mercilessly heaped on you so easily. It will simply follow you up to the 2nd floor.