Going Mobile

Mar. 29 - [Over the course of the weekend I resumed MoronAbroad. I'm going to try and keep updating it with Danish stuff, mostly, from Danish news media, and how it looks from an American perspective. We'll see how that goes.]

It was a long holiday weekend in Denmark—from Thursday to Monday most of this secular, socialist-democratic state was shut down for Easter. It was good timing: Trine and I got to spend all five days together with Molli, and they were some of the most radically developmental days of her little life.

Friday was the biggest day of them all. Molli began the day trying out some of her new tricks—the double-lunge forward crawl (which is really more of a controlled fall), and standing upright by holding the rails of her playpen. Later in the morning she added a new stunt to the repertoire.

I was doing some homework on the PC in our living room while Trine baked some bread in the kitchen. We were both keeping half an eye on the diaper-clad Molli, who was lolling around happily on the living room floor, toying with a plastic spoon. Trine came in and played with her for a moment, then left the room. I heard a couple of weird wood-thunking sounds as I worked but didn't think anything of them because they were accompanied only by happy burbling. So I didn't even glance over at Molli. Then Trine came in the room and said, "Did you do that?"

I turned toward Molli. She was sitting up innocuously enough, smiling goofily, waving a rattle. But I hadn't given her the rattle and I certainly hadn't abandoned her while she was sitting up. If Trine had told me "hey, I left Molli sitting up, keep an eye on her," ... well, then I would have kept an eye on her. But Trine hadn't told me that, so I didn't know.

Except that Trine hadn't left her sitting up. She'd sort of twisted Molli around to show her how she might sit up by herself, if she were interested in trying, and had then lain her back down again. Meaning that Molli had indeed somehow sat up all by herself, and, as has been the case with most of Molli's big developments, we'd both missed it completely.

Very exciting! This struck us as a major development. And surely, we told ourselves, surely she'd begin crawling soon. I dispatched the news at once to my family.

Not much later my sister replied to the news with a warning: "If I were you I would not be so anxious for her to crawl. Once she does, your life is over! Do you really think you'll be able to write while she's crawling around the apartment or up that nice white bookcase in the background? I know it is a very exciting milestone but believe me when I say, later is better than sooner!"

Well. Not long after I read that email Molli made her first real crawling moves. Only a couple of "steps," advancing her no more than a foot or so, but definite crawling. She did it twice over the course of the evening and we were beside ourselves with excitement.

We were so excited that as soon as she woke up Saturday morning we ran her out to the living room and plopped her down on her belly in the middle of the floor, then set one of her favorite toys a few feet in front of her. She grunted, snorted, whined, and flailed her arms pathetically. Just as we were about to give up, however, she pulled herself up onto all fours and gathered her energy, then took two wobbly crawls forward and collapsed in such a way that she was able to stretch her arms forth and grab the toy.

That, too, seemed like a major achievement. We clapped and whooped and felt good about ourselves for having raised such a brilliant child. Then, without any prompting, Molli dropped the toy, got back on all fours, and began a slow, unsteady crawl toward the television set. We froze, breathless. Her determination was astonishing. Draw one leg forward. Lift one supporting arm, throw it forward, anchor it again. Drag other leg forward. Steady balance. Lift other arm, throw it forward, anchor it. Her concentration was total. We were putty in her hands. It was only at the last minute that we realized she was on a collision course with a sharp corner of the television stand. We scooped her up, plopped her in the middle of the room again, and immediately discovered that this whole mobility thing wasn't just a fun little stunt Molli would perform to entertain us every once in a while. It was her new way of life.

For most of Saturday and Sunday her curiosity seemed to be focused on my X-Box console, proving at last that it is indeed the gravitational center of our home.

If we set her down virtually anywhere in the living or dining room (they're really just one large room), regardless of what direction we aimed her in she'd inevitably orient herself toward the X-Box (mounted on a little shelf beneath the television, just under the DVD player) and begin the inexorable slog toward it. The one time we let her actually reach the X-Box to see what she'd do, she snatched one of the controllers and began unwrapping the cord that was coiled around it.

"That's dangerous," Trine said, and moments later the X-Box controllers had been stored away in... Come to think of it, she never did get around to telling me where she put them. I'm sure it just slipped her mind.

We spent a lot of Saturday Molliproofing the apartment. (The duct tape strategy had to be abandoned as soon as we realized that Molli could eat her way through it.) I myself spent a couple of hours ensuring that every drawer and cabinet in the kitchen was secured with special baby-proof latches. I don't know if they'll keep Molli out of things, but they've sure shut Trine down.

This morning while I sipped my coffee and ate my breakfast in the living room, I was entertained by the spectacle of my daughter crawling over to her toy chest, sitting upright in front of it, and making primitive efforts to open it—or maybe she was just trying to figure out how to get it in her mouth. It doesn't sound like much, like that, but it was the most extraordinary combination of actions I'd ever seen her perform.

This squishy, squealing, leaky, babbling creature of our creation is finally beginning to do things that only my smartest pets have ever done. (She's already light-years ahead of our current idiot cats.) It's even conceivable to me, at last, that some day she may actually exceed the behavioral prowess of Rags, the beloved mutt of my youth. Rags could sit up, walk on all fours, make vaguely communicative sounds, and sniff around interesting boxes, too. His preferred method of dealing with things was chewing them. He shit all over the place until he was trained. He could even stand on two legs with a little help.

He also enjoyed rolling around in horseshit and humping furniture, though, so I'm not going to press the comparison...

* * *

Attention non-American readers: please consult this map for an example of one of the many, many ways in which the "Red America / Blue America" paradigm is so disgracefully simplistic. [For those of you too lazy to click through, it's a map of "Generic Names for Soft Drinks by County" for the entire United States.]

Not only do you see some of the important divisions all those Blue and Red maps never give you, but even this complex map is still incomplete. I grew up in New England, and I can tell you that the most commonly used generic term for a soft drink in the Boston area is "tonic." If you look at the hard data for Massachusetts, you'll see that the eastern counties, at least, have very high counts in the "other" column. That represents all the people saying, "tawnic."

* * *

Georges Seurat died on March 29, 1891. Mr. Seurat was a dotty artist who painted the world as he saw it. Sadly, his eye condition was never treated.

Today's the birthday of Jennifer Capriati (1976), Lucy Lawless (1968), Elle Macpherson (1964), John Major (1943), Eric Idle (1943), Pearl Bailey (1918), Sam Walton (1918), and Cy Young (1867).

It's Commemoration Day in Madagascar, Youth Day in Taiwan, and Icaka New Year in Indonesia (unless that's a Lunar holiday, in which case it's probably some other day around this time).

Happy Tuesday!

2005, The Moron's Almanac™

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