B, now the grand old age of one, is still inordinately delighted about his greatest achievement to date: crawling. Me, possibly less so. Once, when I could plonk him down at will and go off and do something, I could return a few minutes later to find him in the same spot. Granted, he was sometimes flat on his back or with his face ground into the floor boards due to an ill-advised attempt at movement, but nevertheless, he stayed put.
Now, he crawls at every given opportunity, and at pace. My Danger Radar is now on full alert, given that he is obsessed with stairs. We have hauled the stair gate out of the loft and fitted it, but no one in this family, including myself, ever remembers to shut it, so I am usually alerted to the fact that B is attempting a stair expedition due to the the sound of a stair gate creaking as he grasps it, usually followed by the thwonk of metal frame hitting forehead and I am saved from any further attempts to scale the dizzy heights of the stairs by his ineptitude at coordinating body and hand.
His pleasure at crawling is only exacerbated by the delight of now being able to haul himself up with the aid of appropriately chin-height objects, such as the sofa, the dining chairs, my knees and a precarious mountain of ironing. He is not standing unaided, but thinks he is. A few days ago, he pulled himself up next to the sofa, and so proud was he of his mighty achievement, he actually gave himself a round of applause. With hands no longer steadying him on the sofa cushion, he fell backwards, thus demonstrating without a shadow of a doubt that pride, does indeed, come before a fall. With a bang on the back of the head on the floorboards following shortly after.
I am getting neck strain by repeatedly engaging in one activity in front of me, yet spending most of the time craning my neck round to see what moving-based mischief B has entangled himself with this time. Yesterday, I took him into the bathroom whilst I ran the bath for the boys, and whilst I was busy scooping plastic fish, a small octopus and a yellow dingy out of the way of the running water, I heard an ominous splash from behind me. I turned, to see B standing at the toilet, hands on seat. I tried to not feel queasy thinking about just how many germs were at this precise moment gaily jumping from seat to hand, and instead eyed him suspiciously. There was a wide grin across his face as he looked from me, into the toilet and back again. I sighed as I peered into the bowl. His rattley-bell-thingy (as we snappily refer to it) lay at the bottom. Oh good. I pull B away from the toilet and put him down away from trouble, with a stern warning to stay away from the toilet, which is met with the usual gleeful giggle he gives me when I adopt my stern voice. There is nothing I like more than shoving my hand down the toilet. I retrieve the toy and dump it in the sink, trying not to think about the atoms of poo that would forever be lodged inside the metal bells, the part he really likes to suck.
Thirty seconds later, as I turn to test the water temperature, I hear another clatter. This time, he has pulled the bathroom bin over and is holding a used tissue between thumb and finger, dangling it in front of his face for closer inspection and imminent taste. I leap over and spend the next few minutes wrestling cotton buds from his clenched fist and peeling old tissues from his trousers. Crawling is meant to tire out the baby, which I thought could only be a good thing in terms of sleep at night. I don’t know about B, but I am bloody exhausted.
And the eating. Now he is mobile, he is like a marauding animal foraging for scraps in the undergrowth. Or chair legs. Everything that is small goes in for a suck and a chew. Everything else – sofas, chair legs, shoes still attached to legs – gets a good old lick and at least three attempts to get it in his mouth anyway. If my son could dislocate his jaw like a snake, there would be nothing left in our house bar a wardrobe and a pot of blackcurrant jelly (he doesn’t like jelly). I may not be able to tell the difference between the cry of my son and anyone else’s (and much to my husband’s amusement, after being with my eldest for four and a half years, I still answered ‘Yes?’ to a complete stranger aged around six shouting ‘mummy’ when we were at the zoo at the weekend), I can tell the nuanced differences of B’s mouth movements at a single glance. I look over as he sits on the kitchen floor and there is that unmistakable chin movement, a slow, circular motion like a cow chewing the cud. I rush over, scoop round his mouth with my finger and find a lemon pip. When did we last have lemons, for god’s sake?
At one of E’s friend’s house, at a play date to which B inevitably gets dragged, we all go into the garden. I put B on the grass, chat with my friend, and a few minutes later I look back at him to see that he has mud smeared all round his mouth. I know they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but B is really testing that theory to destruction.
I have in the past few weeks retrieved a Play Mobil compass, a variety of magnetic letters (in fact, I should keep them to one side to see if they end up spelling anything, like ‘help me I’m choking), three stones, a die, the end of a pen, an old pea, a blob of blu tack, a leaf and an array of scraps of paper. Which leads me to ponder: what the hell have I missed? I wouldn’t be surprised if an x ray was done of his stomach and its contents that it closely resembled the swag bag of a highly efficient Borrower. I have yet to find anything suspect in his poo, but I am sure it is only a matter of time before nestled in his nappy is small magnet from our memo board, or some tiny gold coins from E’s pirate set.
I then inevitably think about what a disgusting state my floors are in. I could hoover them more frequently, I muse. I might even glance over to the cupboard where the hoover is kept. And then the remaining ounce of my energy escapes through an unspecified orifice and that is the end of that.
What I really need is to invest in one of those mini-hoovers hilariously styled just like a proper one, but only three inches tall and designed to vacuum your keyboard. (Yeah, because I have plenty of time to do that). I could give B’s mouth a quick once-over every hour to suck out whatever items he has managed to collect in his cheeks, like the kleptomaniac hamster he is. Well, it beats hoovering the floor for fuck’s sake. Sod that.
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“…[a] literary tour de force that is essential reading for Dads as well as Mums. Her no holds barred approach smacks you in the face like a wet nappy.”
“The way she tells a tale is wonderful. She has great comic timing and I was actually weeping with laughter.”
And before you ask, neither of those were a) my mum or b) paid.
So hop on over to www.jodienewman.co.uk for the paperback, a steal at £6.99, or mosey on down to www.amazon.co.uk for the Kindle version priced at a very modest £3.99 – you can also read more reviews here too.