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Friday, July 1, 2011

10 of 12

"Which creature in the morning goes on four legs, at mid-day on two, and in the evening upon three, and the more legs it has, the weaker it be?" asked the Sphinx. I wish I hadn't been such a fan of the Greek myths to know how Oedipus answered.

At ten months Zenas is at the verge of walking--or so we are told, by those who seem to know how to read the signs. We've barely gotten used to the idea of him crawling, and the alarming speed which he's gained in just a few weeks. And he's been pulling himself up for a while now: on me, on Chris, the couch, the nesting table (thereby upsetting a plate of food to pour over his head), the dining room chair (which collapsed onto him), the other kids in daycare (who cry), our cats (who screech), and whatever seems handy within reach. His mobility and strength grows every day, but sneakily right in front of our inexperienced eyes who don't know how to measure its progress. But someone like Uncle Adam will come over and say it's the way he seems to slowly squat down from standing to crawling, not just plopping backwards, and it's that awareness of gravity and his own body that signals that most coveted (and feared) milestone. One of the defining characteristics of a "baby" is his inability to walk. Until he's bipedal, he seems still in that miracle stage of life; once he's upright, he will fulfill the scientific criteria of our species and officially be on his way to becoming a man.

Zenas in the last week learned to stand up from a sitting position. Learned, we say, but more accurately, self-taught through instinct and practice, and without an obviously conscious process. My son is not special or unique, but magnificent in that he is proof of genetic hard-wiring to develop such skills. And as new parents we can't help but marvel and celebrate what is so universally matter-of-fact as nothing short of the greatest accomplishment of our lives to have created such a creature.

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