All of a sudden, he lifts his left butt cheek into the air, throws the leg attached to it over his right hip and flips himself from back to belly like some kind of gymnast. Then perfecting the routine, he lifts his right arm over his head in one magnificent reach, grabs the wiper warmer, and sends everything around it crashing to the floor.
So I do what any mother with a half open, poopy diaper does while her child holds onto the edge of the change table with a grip so intentional in its glee that it’s impossible to roll him back: I learn to change him upside down.
I don’t bother to tell him the irony; that the word gymnastics is from the Greek gymnazo, meaning to train naked. Because he understands this instinctively, apparently, in the way he already understands so much. Too many adults think they have to teach babies how to be, but since this wee one has burst onto my scene, I have plenty of evidence that it’s the other way around.
Having a newborn is a masterclass in change. Just when you think you’ve got baby and his behavior down, he changes it, and that demands that you roll with it. Babies are all about progress and practice. The world is one big curiosity and their growing awareness is a source of excitement, not fear.
If he can’t figure out how to do something one day—like rolling—he may get frustrated but it doesn’t stop him from continuing to practice, over and over again. He doesn’t care what the books say about his development, about the milestones he should be reaching, he is 100% present in his growth, through experience. He smiles at me when I offer hope and encouragement but then he’s back to business, focused on discovery. All of this while his brain is signaling millions of chemical changes, not to mention teething. He makes no excuses, his desire is to keep moving, literally.
The fewer expectations I have about when he’ll do, what, when, the better. The more I listen to his coos, cries and laughs as they start to mean things they haven’t before, the more I pay attention as his visual, aural and emotional vocabulary of the world expands, I’m given a glimpse of what change looks like in his world. For babies, change is a given. It’s magic.