Last week my son, Macklin, finally figured out how to crawl. For months, he struggled to get his big, chubby left leg unstuck from underneath his even bigger, chubbier belly. You could see the frustration in his eyes. You could also hear it quite plainly in his not-so-subtle whimpers for help.
He was struggling so much that my wife and I were convinced he’d be walking before he’d be crawling. But more so, we were naively convinced that once he finally got moving, he’d be a smiley, giggly, constantly contented little boy freed from his fatty ball and chain to explore the far reaches of the living room.
(Here is where I would swear if swearing were allowed in this family-friendly publication.)
We were wrong. Not just off the mark kind of wrong, but wrong in the sense that the exact opposite turned out to be true. Like the time I tried replacing the outlets in the upstairs bathroom. I assumed the circuit breaker that shut off the lights would also shut off the electrical current running to the outlets. I was wrong. The jolt of electricity coursing up my right arm told me so. The realization was sudden, and I screamed like a big, frightened girl. The dog even came running.
I was dead wrong (almost literally) about the circuit breaker, and I was dead wrong about crawling. The moment Mack finally rolled over that left leg and started moving, the fairytale I didn’t know I was living in ended. As pleased as he was with himself about conquering the challenge of locomotion, he was equally irate that he wasn’t immediately able to move around the room at lightspeed to play with everything all at once. Pre-crawling, one little box of toys would keep him occupied for a solid half hour. Now, toys are lucky to enjoy a three-second lifespan.
I would guess we have about 50 toys within his reach at any given time. (Before you get excited, they’re mostly small and almost all second-hand.) Using some very simple arithmetic, 50 toys at three seconds each gives me, a trying-to-keep-it-together stay-at-home dad, exactly 150 seconds of free time to do the dishes, prep supper, fold clothes, go to the bathroom, let the dog out, cut the grass, take out the garbage, eat something, write a few lines and post something witty and cute on Instagram & Twitter (@MrFullTimeDad).
If only I could count on those 150 seconds, life would be pie. But I already see my time (and productivity) dwindling. With each passing day Mack’s interest in his toys wanes. The smiley elephant guy with the bendy legs used to be fun, but it seems Mr. Big Shot crawler is suddenly too good to play with such a childish toy.
You know what’s fun now? The powerstrip plugged in under the desk. The dehumidifier growing mold in the corner of his bedroom. Anything sharp. The pull cords hanging off the window shades—you know, the ones that tangle into knots just by looking at them. Oh, and every book on every bookshelf. The only thing more fun than pulling all the books off the shelf is puking on them once they’re in a pile on the floor. It’s a grand ol’ time.
What I’m trying to say is, be careful what you wish for, parents, and use your time wisely while you have it. It’s a joy watching my son crawl toward me with a grin smeared across his chubby little face. But crawling has also proved to be a lot like puberty, hurling the kid down an uncontrollable rollercoaster of emotion. A belly laugh now turns into a bucket of free-flowing tears with little explanation or provocation, and I’m left trying to discern a solution to an infantile problem. Literally.
Baby puberty—it’s a thing. And it’s just one of many minor horrors of parenting nobody tells you about. Fortunately, I’m here for you. If we’re lucky, I’ll get to keep sharing my tales of life as a stay-at-home dad here in the pages of The Good Life. If not, I guess you’ll just have to follow me online @MrFullTimeDad.