He’ll take the hard road
Why use a screw driver when you can use a power drill? We adults tend to find the easiest way of doing things. We know that putting your jeans on after your underpants is the most efficient way of getting dressed. And how often would you take the slow route from A to B? Zane would. And does. Little ones don’t know the best way of doing things; they’re too busy just working out how to achieve something in any way possible, let alone finding superior alternatives.
If I’m sitting on the floor with my legs outstretched and Zane wants to get something on the other side of me, rather than crawling around me he’ll clumsily clamber over my legs with the speed, grace and agility of a walrus in a bouncy castle. His direct journey takes a great deal longer than if he had kept to the flat floor. Did he know there was another way? Perhaps. Perhaps he just wanted a challenge. Or perhaps he just took the path he found most enjoyable.
My dad (Zane’s Pa) calls it his 240 Volt Trick. When all eyes are on Zane he has the urge to do something impressive, to show off what he can do with his body. The result is hilarious. He seems to do an impression of how someone would look when subject to a violent electric shock: his legs straighten and tense; his portly belly sucks in and his back becomes stiff as a board; all the muscles in his arms and fingers flex so his hands look like claws; the transformation that is most humorous is in his face – his eyes open wide, the whites of his eyes flashing, and his mouth stretches into a crazy grin; and all this he does while vibrating his whole person as a pretend alternating current surges through his comical little body.
As you become a new parent you automatically activate a number of feline genes. There are three of them.
The first is reflex: you suddenly develop the ability to catch your falling child with cat-like speed. If our boy is lying on a bed across the room and he unexpectedly decides to roll quickly to its edge, I find myself there in an instant, ready to cushion his swift descent. I never quite know how I traverse the distance between us; it involves no conscious thought on my part and must engage a rather trivial quantum leap.
With Zane now crawling about at high speed, he seems to have a craving for moving towards the brink of stairs without any check in his velocity. Once or twice I have cleanly caught him just as he became airborne, despite the fact I was seated comfortably in a chair some distance away a second earlier, happily nursing a relaxing beverage. Zane probably thinks he is invincible, throwing himself off high places like a hang glider might, only to suspend in mid-air for a moment and then be comfortably relocated elsewhere...and then start it all again.
Secondly, cats have antibiotic properties in their saliva. Now we are parents, so do we! For many months after Zane’s birth Jas and I would diligently ensure that anything that went into his mouth was thoroughly disinfected with expensive chemical-embedded germ-nuking wipes: cups, spoons, dummies, even his fingers were constantly cleansed. Our immediate environment was always a bacteria-free zone.
We don’t bother with that now; why spend so much time fiddling about sterilising everything that enters our boy’s mouth when we have the ability to clean things with our own tongue? If his dummy hits the floor, we’ll quickly suck it before safely replacing it in his mouth. If he throws his spoon on the ground, a quick lick from mum or dad is guaranteed to remove all dangerous germs from it. A dirty face? Rubbing Zane’s cheeks with saliva-dabbed fingers is the perfect cleanser.
And three: our hearing is now brilliant. While Jas and I are still rather crap at hearing when the other has something useful to say when seated beside each other, we can hear Zane’s cry in a house full of noisy kids whilst at opposite ends of the building. More importantly, we can hear the silence: if Zane is awake and is making absolutely no noise at all, he is up to no good and probably eating a book or rubbing bodily fluids into the carpet.
Zane also displays cat-like characteristics. He likes pouncing: he’ll pause in mid crawl, and suddenly rise up on his knees, his arms outstretched above his head, and hang there for a predatory second or two...and then he’ll fling himself forward onto his victim – often an unfortunate soft toy or Jas’ head – pouncing with the ferocity of a clumsy kitten mauling a tennis ball.