Child development: the self-propelled tomato

As some readers may already know from other sources, The Kid has a little sister now. Not too long after she was born I looked at her round, red face and thought, Oh, a tomato. So now one of her nicknames is Tomato Princess.

As is common with babies, for most of her life so far she hasn’t been especially mobile, having developed basic rolling technology (mostly to the right-hand side) and little else. In the tradition of her primate ancestors, she’s often tried to grab on to things with hands and feet alike, and when something solid is nearby she’ll reach out with all four limbs to facilitate a roll.

All this began to change a few weeks ago when we went to the library and she watched first-hand as another kid, just two months older, went crawling around and even standing up by using the bookshelves as a pull-bar of sorts. At the time this didn’t seem to have much of an impact, but little sooner had we come home than the Tomato Princess began trying to work out how to crawl.

Early results were hilarious and cute, but ineffective. She had apparently noticed that being on all fours instead of your belly was a key part of the technique, but decided to go with hands and feet rather than hands and knees. So she would plant her hands against the floor, straighten out her legs, and rise up… only to find that she was stuck.

She had enough strength and know-how to lift her body off the ground, but was missing some component that would have allowed her to pick up one limb at a time and move it forward to effect actual locomotion. Once up, in other words, all that she could do was stand there, straight-armed and splay-legged, becoming increasingly frustrated (and increasingly vocal about her frustration) until forced to lower herself back down. The overall effect was reminiscent of the desert rain frog from that BBC video:

Since then, she’s tried squinching (lifting up her rear and then straightening out again, inchworm-style), and then just this past weekend finally developed the art of dragging herself around on her belly again – partially with her elbows, with a sort of kick-swimming motion from behind for extra propulsion – again, somewhat froglike in form, now that I think about it.

This led to a sudden, startling increase in mobility. It felt as if one minute she could move herself an armspan or two in pursuit of something shiny (like a phone screen), and the next, she was wandering from room to room, looking curiously at electric outlets just out of reach overhead and picking up a healthy load of dust with her clothing.

The rest of us are caught between apprehension (the season of babyproofing the home has come upon us at last!) and enthusiasm (I’m repeatedly reminded of this kotowaza). I guess it’s just another reminder that things are always changing.

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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