Our second son, eight-month-old Isaac, has suddenly started to crawl with increasing assurance. The speed with which he is mastering movement has, to tell the truth, caught us slightly off balance. It seems only a few days since he was, more or less, a stationary fixture who lay docilely wherever he was put.
Then the day came when he worked out a method for propelling himself slowly across the floor in a kind of horizontal shuffle and we would come across him in unexpected places some distance from where we had left him.We removed the books from the bottom shelf of the bookshelf and watched indulgently as he made his first abortive efforts to crawl, raising himself on his arms and legs but unable to make any forwards movement.
When he first began to crawl it was a rather ponderous affair, as if he was paddling through heavy mud. In turn, each arm would be raised extravangantly high and placed down in front of him, elbows bent, palms flat, head up and eyes fixed in front of him. We cheered lustily and surrounded him with toys as a distraction from more dangerous targets. It worked. Well, it worked for a few minutes, before he was off in search of more interesting things such as the door and walls. Very soon he began to bang his head against the door and walls and get stuck in the narrow gap between the sofas. Cushions were piled around the room but he was not to be deterred and now he has begun to haul himself to his feet using the sofas. Suddenly, nothing left on the sofas is safe any more. In fact, nothing is safe any more.
This morning, for example, I had gone upstairs for a moment leaving the two boys in the lounge. "Look after Isaac," I instructed my eldest son. After about two minutes an excited call came floating up the stairs:
"Daddy! Isaac's under the big table I put my dinosaurs on!" (He meant the coffee table.)
I replied that I would come to his aid as soon as I could.
"Well, come very quick else he might bump 'is 'ead!"
Approximately thirty seconds later there was a short wail and another excited cry of "Daddy!"
I arrived downstairs to find Isaac earnestly engaged in biting the coffee table, from which the glass inset top was missing. "He took the glass out, Daddy," explained Isaac's youthful guardian, showing me where he had placed it for safety in his box of dinosaurs.
I wasn't sure that fake wood veneer was a suitable diet for an eight-month-old boy so I removed him and propelled him in a different direction. However, I feel that the hours of propelling Isaac in a direction that he doesn't want to go are dwindling. We have placed a stair gate in the lounge door to keep him from going out into the hall but as his crawling speed increases from third gear to fourth and fifth gears I can see the time coming when, having placed Isaac on the lounge floor, it is going to be a race to see who can get out of the room first.
Despite previous experience and natural fleetness of foot I can tell you now it is not a race I am not always going to win. The determined patter of tiny hands and knees in the hallway cannot be stalled for ever. Peace, reliquish thy throne! Disorder is on the march! And this time it comes on all fours.