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Podling practices standing in his corral

Theron is now two days shy of being eight months old. (At this rate, he may be eight months old by the time I get this posted.) His physical growth is steady, but almost invisible (compared to the Gods-Above-Has-He-Gotten-Visibly-Bigger-Today? stage just a few months ago). His progress is actually most visible in terms of What He Can Do.

Theron is crawling. Apparently, within minutes of uploading my last entry (in which I expressed my sympathy for the baby's failed attempts to learn to crawl) he started moving around using the commando crawl. At about the same time, he started pulling himself upright, using almost anything available... but with a clear preference for his parents, who would help pull him upright. A week ago, he transitioned to what I'd consider a 'proper' crawl: one that uses his hands and knees. The Beautiful Woman tells me that he has begun 'cruising' (using the furniture to hold himself upright while he practice walking) within the last few days.

Since I am publicly now expressing my sympathy for the Juggernaut's attempts to walk, I expect he'll be toddling any day now. The idea fills me with one of those feelings that (I think) you have to a parent to truly understand: a rich mixture of profound pride and mind-numbing terror. He has also demonstrated an age-related psychic ability (or mutant power, if you're more of a Marvel Comics fan).

Our baby, the danger-detecting compass
 Now that he's really mobile, Theron has begun to demonstrate one of the classic baby abilities: he can intuitively locate the most dangerous object in his immediate area. Once he's done that, of course, he immediately moves directly towards it. This has aided our baby-proofing efforts enormously.

The process works like this:

  1. Set the baby on the floor in the middle of a room. 
  2. Watch to see what he approaches. 
  3. Stop him before he: 
    • electrocutes himself 
    • cuts himself 
    • pulls something heavy over on himself 
    • eats/drinks something poisonous 
    • opens the bottle of hydrofluoric acid 
    • sets something (possibly himself) on fire 
  4. Remove him from the danger area. 
  5. Put some sort of protection around the danger area. 
  6. Repeat until he looks puzzled (which means he doesn't see anything dangerous enough to be interesting). When that happens, move him to another room. 
It's not a bad power, I suppose, but I'd have preferred something a little more... super-hero-y. Invulnerability would have been good. Or the ability to shoot laser beams from his fingers. On the other hand, I should probably be glad he didn't develop flight or telekinesis.

Music charms the savage baby
Anyone who knows my father will not be even slightly surprised that Theron might demonstrate a certain musical aptitude. My dad collects musical instruments in the same general way that I collect swords: obsessively. Most people grew up with pictures on their walls; our house had more guitars than artwork. At one point my mother laid down an ultimatum: if he acquired one more musical instrument, he had to get us a bigger house. (In her defense, we were running out of free space on the walls...) Faced with a potential crisis, my dad chose the better part of valor: he quit keeping new instruments, and borrowed them from friends instead.

This was not an idle collection, either. I don't believe that there was anything in the house that he couldn't play, from the ocarina to the hammered dulcimer. (The collection of mandolins and zithers remains extremely impressive.) So far as I know he has never played the harp, but any other stringed instrument is fair game. So there's at least a small possibility that Theron will have some musical ability. (Especially if you believe the old saw about talent skipping a generation: I have no musical talent whatsoever.) It's a bit early to tell, since most of the noise he makes comes from bashing things around. He seems to enjoy it, so maybe he'll become a drummer. (G-d help us...)

So, a couple of weeks ago, my father played guitar at the baby and sang him a cute (and old) little song about going for a ride in the car, car. Theron was absolutely enraptured: he sat completely still, and devoted his full attention to the performance. He never shows any interest in my music, but then it isn't coming from a live human being. Or maybe it's just that he doesn't like my taste. Understandable, if true.

The dangers of baptism

Zombie Dad attempts to put the baby back to sleep.
Last Sunday, my parents found themselves set upon in their own home. Their son (that would be me) had been awakened by crying baby with a head cold and a semi-comatose wife, and - after various attempts to put the baby back to sleep had failed - had loaded the Podling into his car-seat and driven off, hoping that the combination of movement and being upright would allow the child's sinuses to drain and put him back to sleep. Thus, he arrived on the doorstep of the elder Mocks, looking abjectly worn-out and pathetic. The grandparents, kind souls that they are, conceived of a plan whereby the baby could be entertained and their son could get some much-needed sleep: they took the baby to church with them.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I'm not a very good Christian, in much the same way that I'm not a very good Marxist - or a very good toy poodle, for that matter. I won't get into the background behind this, at least not here; it doesn't make any difference to the story, and it's one of those topics that's almost impossible to discuss without offending someone. I'm not entirely irreligious, it's just that my experience of the Divine doesn't fit the Christian paradigm very well at all.

So this was baby's first visit to church, and I celebrated the occasion by sleeping. A lot. The baby apparently had an excellent time listening to the service and nibbling on some sort of snack cracker (which occupied a fair amount of his attention) and smiling at the lady in the pew behind him... so he wasn't disruptive, and he probably even enjoyed it.

When they put him in the car to go home, he immediately fell deeply asleep. My parents, being the wise and generous people they are, drove him over to the duck pond. This allowed him to continue sleeping in the car seat, and allowed me to continue sleeping back at their house. When he finally woke up, they took him down to watch another family feeding the ducks. ...All of which is a long and indirect build-up to the point where they finally returned home.

I'd woken up by then, and found out that the Podling had behaved himself, and pointed out to him that he had no idea how close he might have come to being baptized. Those priests'll christen anyone, I told him.

Whereupon my father chuckled sheepishly and admitted that the idea had occurred to them.

So where do we go from here?
I suppose that language acquisition is the next major stage of Theron's development. He already burbles - makes little happy sounds, trying out his vocal chords - and his volume control is a lot better. He hasn't formed any actual words - by which I mean, combinations of sound that have a specific meaning. He's made a few accidental ones, but they aren't really an attempt to communicate anything. He's still basically just playing with the sounds. Still, the groundwork is there - and I find myself looking forward to the time when he'll actually have things to say.


Wild babies have been known to nest in baskets of clean laundry.


"Bang-daddy thinks I'm taking a nap!"