Happy Fun Baby started walking at a little past 8 months. He didn’t just start walking, either - he jumped into it head-first, just like he does with everything else. The amount of time between taking his first steps and doing laps around the living room? Minimal.

Now that he’s an old, wise baby of 9 1/2 months, Happy Fun Baby runs, dances, wriggles under things and (as of today) can climb onto the couch. The one thing he can’t (or chooses not to) do is climb back down again, but who needs down? Our baby’s an optimist. He assumes he’ll figure something out on the way to the ground. (…Kidding. We don’t let him fall off of things if we can help it. But still, you’d think a healthy sense of fear would be part of being a foot and a half tall and speaking no English, wouldn’t you?) He’s repeated the word “kitty” (well, what sounds like “kitty” if you had a mouth full of peanut butter) while seeing or running after the cats enough times that I’m forced to concede that it’s his first word. The kid, he’s going places.

But he’s still 9 1/2 months old. He doesn’t get concepts like volume or “You need to sit down when you climb up on the couch so you don’t fall off and crack your head open on the hardwood.” He’s not big enough to ask “Why?” but there’s a why on his face every time we step onto the other side of the baby gate and leave him in the living room to play or put shoes on his feet even though he was perfectly happy without them. How do you explain concepts to someone who is isn’t even really sure about nouns?

I’ve been perusing the toddler threads on my online mama community, but even if he’s gross-motor-skilling at a 12-month level, he’s still not quite all-toddler, all the time. He’s not associating prepositions with actions (”in” and “out” don’t mean a lot to him; “up” is only relevant when he wants me to snuggle with him). He isn’t interested in many interactive games - he thinks it’s fascinating when we play peek-a-boo, for example, but loses interest if we try to get him to play it with us. He doesn’t clap yet so it’s a similar situation with pat-a-cake. So far the only actual game I’ve seen him play is when Not So tries to get him to come over: he runs toward him and then swerves away at the last second, and when Not So finally goes after and grabs him, he squeals with laughter. Pretty cute, right? But not exactly something we could structure a playtime around.

I feel a peculiar reluctance to admit all the things my kid can do without adding some sort of disclaimer, like: he’s crazy. We try to tell him he’s too little to be doing these things, but he doesn’t listen. I don’t know how any of this happened. And it’s the truth. We didn’t set out to have a kid who could climb over furniture before his first birthday. We aren’t pushing him to be all advanced and ahead of the curve. We work with what we’ve got, and what we’ve got is a baby who doesn’t act much like a baby except when he’s cranky. I don’t want to be mistaken for one of those parents.

I’m proud as hell of him, of course. He’s the most amazing kid ever. I’d think that even if his biggest accomplishment to date was batting his eyelashes at me and going “Coo?” It’s just a different kind of stress to have a baby who can do all these crazy things. Like, who do you talk to when you wonder, for example, why your baby isn’t clapping? How do you come across as not being all “My baby can do all these things and I’m so superior blaaaaaah” when you talk about how hard it is to childproof? Where do you find out if any of the things your kid is not doing (not that I’m harping on the clapping thing) is a problem?

He’s exceptionally happy, though. I hope that means we’re doing something right.*

*Not that I’m suggesting that parents of unhappy babies are doing something wrong. Jeez. You’re so sensitive.

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