It is difficult to describe the joy I feel watching Sidney learn something new, observing him discover his world. Despite its richness, deep reserve of synonyms and ridiculous ease of metaphor, English may simply not be equipped to accurately convey this euphoric melange of pride, happiness, excitement and amazement. What it can readily describe, however, are the emotions that follow this medley of merriment, the emotions I feel as I realize exactly what Sidney's particular discovery means for good old Mom and Dad. Here is but a smattering of my post pride realizations, and what caused them:
1. We've been had!: We recently had a very nice trip to Ocean City, NJ. The Wife, Sidney and Nana were there for the start, and the Admiral and I joined later in the week. During this trip Sidney discovered sand, the ocean, frozen custard and the Boardwalk. Now, at home, when Sidney is fussy around bed-time we will take him out for a walk as the motion will usually put him right to sleep. Well, he quickly discovered that in Ocean City this meant another trip to the Boardwalk. That's right, he'd fake cry and fuss until we found ourselves strolling up and down his new favorite place. It was the Wife that first made the realization, before the Admiral and I had made it down. In what was a very poignantly written chat message, I was informed that our adorable 6 month old son was playing her and Nana, shamelessly. I witnessed his act for myself later that week, and sure enough our little Three-Card Monty player was pulling in us rubes. On the one hand, this is an amazing leap in cognitive function, predicting the behavior of others and realizing that he can affect outcomes with his behavior. On the other, we've been had.
2. I've been taught to fetch!: Sidney has been playing with toys for a little while now, and it is always fascinating to watch him examine the objects, turn them in his hands, inevitably shove them in his mouth, and occasionally have them go flying when his exuberance outpaced his grip (l figured he was being a typical physicist and assuming zero friction for purposes of his calculations). The toy would fly in a random direction and someone (usually Mommy, Daddy, Nana or Abuela) would go retrieve it and give it back. For a little while it would be a different toy that would go flying, so I assumed (silly me) that we were still dealing with random vector equations; then came the rings. Sidney has a set of stacking rings that he will meticulously take apart and then play with the rings, mostly throwing them. I know, great! He is engaging spatial relations to enable his removal of the rings from their stacked position; full three dimensional reasoning. You know what else he was engaging in? Making us get the rings and bring them back. That's right, we were playing fetch. I had suspected this much, but it took having him look at a rattle he was playing with (which he until then had not intentionally thrown), look at me, throw the rattle and then look back to me for it to fully sink in; he had us trained. And, because he is my son, he smiled right at me as if to add an exclamation point to his lesson. Well played Sidney, well played.
3. Holy crap, we have to move everything!: This one just happened this week, so it is fresh on the mind. Sidney had been sitting up for a while now, but only when you put him in that position. If he fell over, he usually either rolled around, did his half-crawl/half-military drag, or complained until you sat him back up. Sure you had to keep an eye on him, but once he was down, he was staying down. Then I received the phone call from the Wife: "Sidney just sat up on his own. We were on the couch, he was laying there, I turned around, turned back and he was sitting up." He didn't repeat the feat immediately, so we thought this was a one off ... until the next morning. He had just been put down for his morning nap when he did it again ... he slid his right leg underneath himself, pushed off and was sitting. This was amazing. He had figured out his body position, what limbs needed to bend and move in what direction, how much pressure he needed to lift himself, not to mention the acting on his desire to be sitting up. This was huge! So many systems involved and he was doing it at 6 months! This was great! If he could do this, he was just a short discovery away from pulling himself u...OH CRAP WE HAVE TO MOVE EVERYTHING. At that instant our apartment went from wonderful home to baby death-trap. We have to drop the crib to the lower mattress setting; the coffee table has to go, that thing is just the right height to be dangerous; the wine racks, he might try to pull himself up on them! We had always known we would need to baby-proof the place, but it was something we had to do down the road. Well ... it's down the road.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to move everything ... and fetch two rattles that he threw.