Small Baby Walking
Podling. Walking. On Camera.
Yesterday evening – at the age
of nine months and one week – Theron started walking.
I wouldn’t say he’s
competent at it, exactly. His record so far is about
six steps before he falls over. But he is actually
moving in the direction that he wants, on his feet,
without grabbing anything for balance. (He does seem to
like carrying things, though.) Plus, he did it
consistently enough that I was able to catch him on
This isn’t entirely
unexpected. He’s been standing up on his own for weeks,
and ‘cruising’(walking while holding on to something for
support), and even pushing the chairs around in the
kitchen. Walking has obviously been one of his goals for
quite some time.
Now that he’s succeeded… well,
you know my usual response: life as I know it is
basically over. I have to hide anything interesting or
dangerous (or lock it away), and only stock the house
with safe, bland things that he can’t use to damage
himself. Except for his toys, of course; he seems more
likely to damage us with those.
On the plus side, soon I’ll be
able to start teaching him his Kung Fu stances.
Our baby, the bold explorer
his vastly increased mobility (and let me tell you,
while crawling he can move like a jet-powered turtle),
the Podling's ability to explore his world has expanded
dramatically. One of his new favorite activities is
Cabinet Diving, which is a bit like spelunking except
that he's inside a cabinet. Also, in a cave the point is
to explore and look at interesting rock formations; when
cabinet diving, the point seems to be to remove
everything in the cabinet. So on second thought, maybe
it's closer to excavating than spelunking. Some of the
things he's pulled out have certainly been old enough to
qualify as archaeological artifacts...
In addition to cabinet diving,
Theron is trying his hand at climbing. He has already
managed to lever himself up from the floor onto the
hearth at my parents' house. Ours is a little higher...
so he pulled a box off a shelf and used it for a step.
(I am not making this up.) Any day now, I expect to find
him banging flint and steel together to make fire.
His language acquisition
hasn't gone any farther. His one actual word - that is,
a set of sounds that he consistently makes in response
to a particular stimulus - is "kitty cat," though when
he says it, it sounds like "Gee-Gaw!" He makes "mama"
sounds, or sometimes "mamamama" sounds, but I'm not sure
he's actually saying the word mama. The usage is
inconsistent, and he may just be experimenting with
He has, however, consistently
demonstrated a liking for knives, forks, and other sharp
objects - a propensity that he doubtless inherited from
his father. He enjoys crawling over to the dishwasher,
levering himself up on the open door, and pulling out
anything sharp. I've chosen to take this as a good sign:
someday I'll be able to teach him swordplay.
Dances with Kitties
love of cats has found its full expression at my
parents' house, where Wayward the Cat lives. Wayward was
originally my cat, but owing to his complete inability
to get along with my wife's cats, he went to live with
my parents. Also, if Wayward hadn't gone to live with my
parents, we would have had four cats in our apartment
after we got married. (Our current house would be
crowded enough, but the two bedroom apartment we moved
into first... it was tight.)
Both of my cats - Wayward and
Astrophe - were foundlings. The Beautiful Woman adopted
hers from a pet store, but I found mine under bushes -
one in Lawton, Oklahoma, and the other in Nacogdoches,
Texas. This probably says something deep and profound
about me; however, since I have very little patience for
deep and profound, I don't want to know. But I
Anyway, Theron has a great
time with Wayward. This is mainly because Wayward,
unlike all the cats in our house, doesn't run away the
moment the baby comes anywhere near. Wayward just lays
there and lets the baby pat him, and then lets the baby
poke him with a stick, and then lets the baby try to
climb over him. Whereupon the cat offers a soft,
pathetic meiw, and I remove the baby. This happened
twice, and it was fairly cute except for the fact that
Wayward still has all his claws, I didn't want to push
my luck (or Theron's, for that matter). The third time,
Theron tried to climb over the cat lengthwise, and
Wayward actually hissed... so that was the end of that
Fortunately, Wayward is
professionally indolent, so I was able to set him on a
bed and leave him there. I don't believe he left the bed
for another six or eight hours.
Why the Podling won’t be
exposed to the evening news
don’t actually have our television set connected to any
sort of broadcast apparatus. We don’t have cable, and we
only have a minimal antenna. Heck, we only have a
television because it’s really hard to use the dvd
player or the Playstation without one.
We have, in short,
deliberately removed ourselves from the mainstream of
modern American society. To a surprising number of
people, this marks us as subversive and Un-American,
probably anarchists or revolutionaries – or, worse yet,
Religious Fanatics. The fact that I’ve just admitted
this online is probably sufficient to get us put on some
sort of FBI watch list. (Not that that’s any great
trick, these days.)
As a result of this
arrangement, the only stations that the television will
pick up on its own are in Spanish. Spanish television,
as it turns out, is just like English television. They
have odd game shows; they have sitcoms that are probably
mildly funny if you can understand them; during the day
they have talk shows, and in the evening they have news.
Once you get past the language, there are really only
two significant differences between Spanish television
and English television: first, the costumes are
noticeably skimpier on Spanish television; and, second,
Spanish television has more midgets.
Since neither of us are fluent
in Spanish, we get most of our news online. I actually
prefer this, mainly because text articles tend to be
less sensational than actual news programs. My wife, on
the other hand, occasionally looks at streaming videos
of the news on her computer. Two weeks ago – for reasons
that are wholly mysterious to me – she found a news
program about a baby who had its nose eaten off by a
rat. Since it was coming over her computer and I was in
the same room, I was privileged to hear about it too.
Now, several reactions to
this. First, how is this news? I mean, once you get past
the Ew factor and the Parent-Scaring factor, how many
people actually need to know this? It’s not like there’s
a plague of nose-eating rats spreading across the land.
It’s not like this is a common occurrence that could
have been prevented with just a few basic safety
precautions. And, frankly, it’s not like I need to be
exposed to other people’s tragedies. There are plenty to
go around, and I’d vastly prefer it if the broadcast
news wouldn’t try to import new ones into my life.
Don’t get me wrong: all
flippancy aside, this is tragic. I wouldn’t be as
irritated if it weren’t. For that matter, if news
of something like this came to me from someone I know,
about someone I know, I’d be doing my best to offer
comfort, help, and support.
This, however, is not that
sort of situation. No one is asking for help; no one is
giving out useful information; no one is warning of a
potential danger. The story is being broadcast because
people will watch it – out of morbid curiosity, for that
little thrill of fear or disgust, or out of simple schadenfreude. It pretends to be news, but it’s actually
just entertainment… and it’s a pretty base form of
entertainment, at that.
So this is why the Podling
will be growing up without much exposure to television.
There are things worth watching, but it isn’t worth
wading through (or paying for) the other 98% of it. We
can get our news online – more reliably – and if we wait
for shows to hit DVD, then we don’t have to put up with
advertising. The downside is that, in some ways, our
little Juggernaut will be poorly socialized. He won’t
have the same cultural referents as his peers. But,
given what passes for culture a lot of the time, I’m not
sure that’s a bad thing.