B is crawling. He is as pleased as a dog with two cocks, and about as stable. I am obviously operating under the assumption that a dog with twice as many willies would be unstable, probably because he would be like any man in this predicament and be unable to take his eyes off his new-found pendulous additions, thus banging into things and toppling over with gay abandon. But I digress.
B’s inability to stay on all fours without pitching head first onto the floor boards or falling sideways and ending up like a flailing up-turned beetle, is not proving to be a deterrent. He wriggles in my arms like a bag of angry ferrets until I put him on the floor, and then he is off, like the bloody Duracell Bunny.
Our days at home are now accompanied by the little slap-slap of tiny palms making deliberate contact with the floor as he crawls around the table or explores the kitchen, only ceasing temporarily if he gets his head stuck in the frame of the chair. B was so pissed off before he learned to crawl, whining if he was left to sit on the floor too long. But now, the downstairs is his oyster and his new-found freedom is a thing of unalloyed joy for him.
So once again, we have had to brush off the dust and deploy our Danger Radar as he tries to pull open a drawer, stick his fingers in an open knot-hole in the floorboards and climb into a cupboard we carelessly left open. We leave a scattering of toys on the floor so that he can amuse himself, but unfortunately, his big red bus, his rain maker and his toy phone have all lost their appeal in the face of something so alluring he can hardly believe his luck: plugs and electric sockets. Now, most of our sockets have the child protectors still in them from when E was a baby – not because we were very good at planning ahead, but because I gave up trying to remove them after I broke four fingernails in an attempt to prise them out. So there is little danger of actual electrocution. But I feel it is only good parental practise to warn him off even touching a plug. The trouble is, we have one at his eye level that is not only shiny and white, it has bloody flashing lights on it as well. It could not be more alluring to an eleven month old if it carried the Fisher Price logo and played The Wheels on the Bus.
As soon as B gets put on the floor, he is off, making a bee-line to the flashing plug. Ah, I think, this is the first time I will be able to assert my parental authority, and it is important that he understands the concept of ‘no’. After all, he will be hearing it a bloody lot over the coming years, so it is essential that he grasps the concept early on. In my mind’s eye, I tell B ‘No’ in a stern manner, and he backs away from the plug and never touches it again. That is the sort of parent that I am, in my head. Back in the real world, I firmly say ‘no’ and shake my head as he reaches out to touch the plug, looks at me for a moment, then smiles. No, this is not the desired effect. I repeat the admonishment, but his arm is still outstretched toward the plug as he grins again. He obviously has not quite grasped ‘no’, I sigh, as I am forced to put down my cup of tea and physically remove him from the plug’s vicinity.
The next day, I hear the familiar ‘slap slap’ as he races toward the plugs. I look across at him and he looks at me as he crawls closer. There is no way that this child does not know he is up to no good. Right, this is it. I will put my foot down properly this time, and he will understand that I mean business.
He sits down in front of the plug and turns to look at me. “NO!” I half-shout and force out a frown of epic proportions. Even E looks up with a scared look on his face.
B pauses momentarily and then starts to laugh. But not just a chuckle. A great big belly laugh that rocks him back then forwards on his bottom.
“NO!” I repeat. E gets up to look at B, intrigued and no doubt pleased that B is now able to share a portion of the tellings off that get handed out in our household. B laughs so hard, he actually tips himself backwards and bangs his head on the floor, promptly ceasing all further laughter and all thoughts of touching the plug.
So victory is mine. Okay, it’s not the victory I was hoping for. But when you seemingly rule your children with a rod of jelly, you take your victories where you can get them.