At seven months our infant son recognizes cameras and instantly becomes ready for his screen test. But also he is able to call up the misery of countless souls going back many millennia, ratcheting up his sobbing to eleven on the Official Sob Scale, bitter tears searing tracks down his chubby cheeks, and all because I am not quick enough to prepare the apple baby food and spoon it from the little jar. When he receives it, he turns on a dime and laughs with unfettered joy, the happiest little man on the planet.
Um, is that what they call manipulating your parents? I believe so. When it’s nap time he lifts his head, catches my eye, and cries out from his crib with a mournful wail, and I swear I sense him beaming telepathically: ‘For Goddess’ sake, don’t leave me here alone! All I have to protect me from certain doom in the dark is a cloth duck! And I also don’t know what the kid in the orange sweater is going to do!’
If you are wondering about the ‘kid in the orange sweater,’ that is not an imaginary friend. It is our orange cat. I’m pretty sure that our little boy thinks of him as a weird-looking kid who always wears the same orange sweater, day and night. The cat a good playmate, and when he stretches full length along the floor, it’s worth a baby belly laugh.
At seven months the boy is pushing past twenty pounds, near to exceeding the design spec of the Snug-a-Bunny rocking cradle that has provided us many minutes of precious peace. Now, his head is sticking a little past the top, and his feet hang over the bottom, slightly. It’s time for a bouncy chair, or maybe his first car. He has graduated to the large size Dr. Brown’s baby bottle – the kind that holds eight ounces, and has tried sweet potatoes (good), apples (good), squash (good) avocado (bad), avocado with some lemon aka beginner’s guacamole (good), pears (bad), kale (tentatively good) and broccoli (are you kidding me?).
At seven months he has perfected gracefully rolling along the floor, picking up and releasing dust balls, but he is something of a little sailboat when he does it. For those of you who sail, you know that you have to tack with the wind, setting a zig-zag course to your destination most of the time. Baby has discovered that if there is something tempting on the other side of the sea (yes, it’s a metaphor), he will have to tack his way there, rolling left, then right, then left again until he closes his hands around the window shutters or other forbidden object. He is incredibly fast.
He sees now that there is a ‘me’ of course, but also a world outside of ‘me.’ That world, and every object in it, must be sampled by mouth to be appreciated. After feeding, he can produce a man-sized burp worthy of any keg-drinking tailgater. The World Wrestling Federation might as well be covering our diaper changes, since he has decided that said diaper must be changed while on his belly, while we prefer the more traditional on-the-back diaper changing.
At seven months we have passed the point of general fatigue and now are onto weary confusion, particularly when the mother’s helper chooses not to show up. Well, as anyone can tell you, bringing up a baby is controlled chaos, although I wonder if you can accurately use the word ‘controlled.’