All Fours

Just when it seemed she had gone awhile without a new trick, we have a baby who is (if you play fast and loose with the word) crawling and possibly talking.

I say this at risk of her not incorporating her latest skills for another month, but this is perhaps the very last week Maddi will get around by rolling. For the last week or so, she’s been getting up on hands and knees and rocking back and forth, and on Friday, she started almost crawling.

I say “almost” because while, technically, what she does is crawl, she doesn’t do it for very long at all. Friday night, she was playing on the floor of her room when she noticed one of her brand-new Christmas toys, a ball with lots of sliding segments that make a great “clack-clack-clack” noise when she shakes it, had rolled beneath the crib a few feet away.

Rather than look at it wistfully for a few seconds, then give up and grab something closer, Maddi pivoted toward the ball and planted her hands in its direction. Then she not only leaned over her tucked-in leg, but then put that knee on the floor along with the other. She crawled one step forward with the first leg, then pushed her knees off the floor so that her bottom was pointed straight to the sky. Then she did kind of a frog-hop, which pulled her legs in toward her hands, pushed off again and handily retrieved her toy!

Proud mama that I am, I had visions of Maddi crawling all about the house in short order. But that was not to be. As you may know, when it comes to things other than food and strangers, Maddi is a cautious baby. Whether it’s a bath or her crib or tummy time or her hat, our little daughter takes a lot of time to acclimatize herself to new things. And so it is with crawling.

Maddi will try to crawl only if something is within two or three feet. Otherwise, she will simply get there via rolling (a method of transportation, you may recall, which not too very long ago was also met with no small measure of reluctance). So far, she hasn’t taken more than one or two little crawl-steps at a time. Only time will tell whether this is yet another skill she will master, but wait months to employ.

Speaking of skills she masters but seldom employs, Maddi has finally uttered — correct pronunciation and all — the word “cat.” As regular readers may recall, she has been trying very persistently to say “cat” since she a little before her six-month birthday. At first it came out sounding a lot like “kkk … hakkt” and to this day, much of the time it sounds like “caa..” or “kit” or even like she’s a cat and is hissing or perhaps conjuring up a hefty hairball.

Unfortunately, I am the only person who has witnessed the two times (that we know of) when Maddi has correctly pronounced “cat,” so I’m pretty sure people are saying I’m completely loony. Auntie Kathy and cousin Becca got to hear Maddi mumbling “kit-kit-kit” last week, and Daddy has heard the ubiquitous “hakkt” several times, but Maddi does her best work when the cats suddenly pop into her bedroom and surprise her. Needless to say, I don’t think anyone really believes she’s said “cat.” But I assure you it is true.

The first time it happened, Maddi was in the hallway and our fat cat, Selkie, was a few feet away. Maddi looked at Selkie, wide-eyed, and whispered in a reverent tone, “cat.” At that point, not even I was sure whether to believe my ears.

But on Friday, the same day she crawled (is it just me, or does Maddi always do things in twos?), she was lying on the floor of her room playing with that same silly ball when Deva, our smaller cat, slinked into the room and gazed at the fat, pink “alpha kitty” suspiciously. Beaming from ear to ear, Maddi looked over at me and said, clear as you please, “cat.” Not “hakkt” or “kit” or “tiktik” or her horrible hissing hairball noise that frightens her beloved kitties away. Nope. “Cat.”

She has also been babbling “Mama” and “Dada” and “Ba-ba-ba-ba,” but who knows whether the “Mama” and “Dada” are intentional? It’s not as clear-cut as when a baby says something difficult like “cat.”

In other cat-related news, I’ve noticed that Maddi has been making funny kissing noises with her mouth. At first I thought she wanted to give Mommy kisses or maybe was trying to tell me, in a rather goldfishy way, that she was hungry, but then I realized those are the same noises I make when I call the kitties over.

“Are you calling the cats?” I asked our little daughter. “Here, kitties, pwa-pwa-pwa!”

Maddi laughed and made more little kissing noises. I am certain that in her dotage, Maddi is going to be one of those old ladies who leaves everything to her 37 cats. She certainly seems to like them better than dear ol’ mom and dad!

And here’s the lastest pic of our crawling, cat-calling 34-week-old.

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