Babies learn many important things as they grow, in their impatient quest to become independent adults. One such skill which is not publicised a great deal in parenthood literature was something Zane suddenly performed brilliantly well: whilst drinking, he can burp, relieving himself of a significant build-up of gas, and - without even pausing for breath or to reflect on the quality of the burp - continue to drink, without spilling a drop of milk. What a marvellous ability.
One other little known check-point in baby development is the ability to be destructive. Zane displayed surprising dexterity in ripping his first page of a book that Jas was reading as he sat on her lap. There seemed to be intent behind it: he swiftly grabbed the paper at his first attempt and then reefed to one side. And he seemed to enjoy it! He looked up at Jas, with the piece of ripped paper in his paw, with considerable satisfaction. Alas, he has begun what will be is many years of objects being dropped from high places, rocks being thrown at things that don’t welcome moving stones and insects being de-winged, all for the fun of seeing what happens.
Zane achieved a number of other – more mainstream – milestones this month. When laid on his front, he can lift himself up onto his elbows to get a better look around; that is, to keep up-to-date on everything that is happening around him. He’s becoming very nosey; he will actually pause from breastfeeding and crane his neck if he senses something interesting occurring nearby. He also now rolls from his front to his back. He has also started to skydive! When laid on his belly, he’ll arch his back and kick his legs and arms with an impish grin on his face, as though he is really free-falling through the air.
Probably the most important development to date is that he can pick up a cup. In fact, any drinking vessel he sees will result in him wriggling impatiently to get near it, grab it and pull it to his mouth, though he doesn’t yet know what to do when it gets there. Interestingly, he shows a great deal of enthusiasm when there is a bottle of beer in front of him; perhaps he can sense my enjoyment of it. Unfortunately that enjoyment is curtailed by the effort of containing the persistent squirming of our little boy trying to take ownership of my drink.
Does he understand?
Zane is nowhere near forming any comprehensible words; he is still practicing on getting his mouth around the easy consonants like ‘m’ and ‘b’. And we don’t expect him to understand us at all either, apart from sensing our mood, or look at us when we make some kind of noise in his general direction. However, on many occasions he seems to respond – immediately - to things we say, regardless of whether we are talking to him or not. For example, we might comment on how well he is picking up small objects, to which he’ll look up and “mmm” appreciatively. We might be talking about our day and mention how fun something was, to which Zane will emit a squeal of delight. Jas would mention that it is time for the boy’s bedtime; Zane might promptly fart with disapproval. He has also grunted and burped with impeccable timing, in concert with discussions that we didn’t think he was part of. Perhaps we need to include him more.
Zane doesn’t like sleeping; he obviously thinks he is missing out on what is occurring in his little world and wants to be a part of everything. Or he just wants to play: sleep is boring! Evenings are the most difficult, and I have attempted a number of little ploys to ease his passage into dreamland. Once I tried to lie quietly next to his bed, to make it clear that I was not doing anything interesting that he was going to miss out on, and that I wasn’t in the mood for playing. He responded by promptly making a little tent with his sheet by draping it over his arms and legs that were all pointing skyward; with his limbs and sheet held aloft, he then looked at me happily, expectantly, thinking that his brilliant creation would convince me that it was time for games. I turned away and stifled laughter.
Another time I‘ve put my head silently close to his, to calm him, his big blue eyes looking at me. He became quiet; so far, so good. Babies like to copy what adults do, so I closed my eyes tightly, breathing deeply, snoring slightly - pretending to sleep - and waited, hoping he would follow suit. Silence. Great, it was working, I thought...Then after a minute or two, I opened my eyes to check: his were still wide open, calmly looking at me, without a hint of sleep forthcoming, probably wondering what hell I was doing.
When I awake, I tend to surface slowly with minimal movement, occasionally stretching to ensure my limbs have sufficient blood flowing through them before I attempt use of them for anything important, like holding me up once I leave the bed. We normally know when Zane is waking up: we’ll hear a repeated whumping – every 5 or 10 seconds – that sounds vaguely like someone smacking a sheet with a broom next door. He produces the sound by slowly lifting his legs up, holding for a second or two and then releasing them, both hitting the bed with a satisfying thump that he does not seem to notice, as he still has his eyes firmly shut. Maybe it is some kind of pre-installed baby pump action that helps force is eyelids to open and let in the light.
He makes particular noises when he is waking up. It’s a noise thay sounds like he has forgotten where he went to sleep and wakes up taking note of all the interesting sights around him, what he is wearing, what’s out the window, and making little beep-like “ummm!” noises as he notes the detail in his surroundings. He sounds like R2D2 attempting a particularly difficult crossword. As his little body is about to shut-down for sleep the noises are far different, almost the opposite; he sounds like a heavy creaky shutter in a gentle breeze. Zane’s eating noises are a completely different proposition still: the urgent grunting reminds me of an Attenborough documentary on a pride of lions enjoying a fresh kill.