Now, at eight months minus one week, the baby is fast. He can't crawl, but he has perfected a peculiar scuttle that involves a lot of arm and one knee. I'm really impressed, because I tried to do it last night, and I couldn't for the life of me. I mean, anyone can crawl, right? But this? This is truly unique.
Sometimes, when he is bored or frustrated or wanting attention, he lies on his tummy in the middle of the floor and lifts his head and legs and says, "Ehn! EHNNNN!" Like, "Someone come help me because I can't do anything for myself because I'm just a BABY!" But we are no longer fooled. We know that, as soon as he sees a clear path to something really exciting, like the dog or Dr. Sears' Baby Book or an electrical cord or a newspaper or his Baby Bjorn Little Potty with pee in it, he will be off like a shot, commenting as he goes: "WEEEN! WEEEEN! WEEEEEEN!" Or "BGAH! BGAH! BGAH!" Sometimes, he chases me down, scuttling down the hall from the living room to the bedroom, "MAM-MAM-MAM-MAM-MAH!!!" My friend M is convinced that he is calling me "Mama," but I'm not sure, because it seems like he's always saying "Mama." I am taking the stance that there is no way he is calling me "Mama," because I know the minute that I admit that he may indeed be calling me "Mama," he will turn to the dog or the Baby Bjorn Little Potty with a huge grin on his face and say "MAM-MAM-MAM-MAM-MAH!!!"
Generally speaking, a moving baby is a much different thing from a non-moving baby. Before, the baby's desires were large, inarticulate, and all-encompassing. Often, upon waking up, he would throw his head back and wail desperately, sending the message that he needed something, anything, not sure what, please please please. Now, upon waking, he often still cries, but it is more of a crying out - Here I am! Come get me! - and when I go into the bedroom, he will already have flipped himself over onto his belly and begun to scuttle towards the door. His desires now are directional, and the direction can be anything from the DVD player or my shoes to a tube of butt cream or one of my husband's really rare singles. Most often, though, his direction is me. He calls out when I leave the room and desperately scuttles after me. When he is tired or cranky, he will not rest until he is in my arms. When I leave him with my husband, he is okay until I return, when, upon seeing my face, he breaks down and cries until I take him from his father and hold him, at which point he rewards both of us with a large, delighted, tearful, two-tooth grin.
When we have a babysitter, I always go out to walk the dog after she gets here, both to give the baby a little bit of time to get acquainted and to let the dog burn off his OH MY GOD THERE IS SOME STRANGER IN THE HOUSE NOW energy. Usually, though he tends to cry throughout his babysitting time, the baby is fine during these few dog-walking minutes. Last time, though, he was already in full cry by the time I came back with the dog, his eyes red-rimmed and his nose running. He reached his arms out to me and buried his face in my neck as I held him, two heartbreakingly expressive gestures new to his repertoire. When I handed him back to the babysitter, he grasped at my shoulders with his little hands, and I felt his cool, soft skin slide along mine. He kept his arms out to me, his face a mask of misery and bewilderment as I waved goodbye and stepped out the door.
This megawattage adoration and dependence is, of course, immensely rewarding. It's an amazing experience to be so loved and so enjoyed and so wanted and so needed by another human being. It's an amazing experience to have the baby smile and coo delightedly just because he happens to be looking at my face. Also, though, it's kind of terrifying. I'm not as afraid of not being able to meet the baby's tremendous need as I am of not wanting to. I'm terrified of getting annoyed, of feeling overwhelmed, of pushing the baby away, of being glad to see him go. I know that this stage, like all others, will not last forever. Whether it lasts weeks or months, it will represent just a tiny, tiny fraction of my life with my child, and, just like everything else I have written about here, I will miss it when it's over.