Sunday, March 18, 2012

Motile Forces

Do you remember the day they reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet? I guess the consortium of star-gazing scientists responsible had good reason to do so. But for those in the general public, it was almost as if our feathers of general knowledge had been abruptly ruffled.

As well as wreaking havoc on our cosy relationship with the solar system, it also muddled up a few other things. There used to be a handy meme by which we could recall the names of our solar system neighbours: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto - which was: My Very Excellent Martian Just Showed Us Nine Planets.

But now it just stops at 'Nine'.

Real planets are now regarded as only those bodies that orbit a star and are massive enough to clear their neighbourhood of other circulating bits and pieces. In other words, they are planet-like, but not quite big enough to be planets just yet.

So if the International Astronomical Union can reclassify something according to those rigourous standards, perhaps we can too.

My proposal is that we reclassify human babies as dwarf people. Babies are similar to people in many aspects, but are not quite big enough to understand the bits and pieces that circulate in their immediate neighbourhood. And sometimes not even aware. During the cold winter months, we've been applying these muffs to the ears of our very own household Dwarf Person.

And by reading her body language, it often appears that she's completely oblivious to their presence.

Baengy will often sit, as snug as a bug in a sling, while we cart her around shopping centres and markets. At the time the photo above was taken, she was uncharacteristically quiet, although the later bulge in her nappy indicated that a Category 4 poop was in the mix.

Dwarf people, it seems, have well-mastered the art of stealthy pooping.

Due to various commitments, I've had to cut back on doing some things I used to enjoy, including Toastmasters. In the photo above, Gilles was predicting a future conversation that will occur between our daughter and another Toastmaster baby, Sejong Cahoon.

Baengy is developing well in every aspect, except that her hair is coming out in much the same style as my PhD. Kind of slowly.

Nevertheless we're encouraging it as 'good progress'.
Heather takes her to special daycare classes these days, in a room filled with a noisy abundance of Korean progeny. The conglomerated clutter of infantile exploration and prudent motherly oversight combines into a bubbly scene of choreographed pandemonium.

Like all mammals, Baengy feels most at home when grazing on coloured balls in the company of her own kind. In such circumstances it can be easy to lose track of her in the colourful mileu.

After all, she's got a round head, is kind of bald and wears cute baby clothes...

When a baby enters your life, a number of noticeable changes occur in quick succession. One of the first is that you become less able to visit bars and drink with friends. You instead find yourself hanging out more with other new families. At these coveted events, mothers will exchange information on baby food recipes, feeding habits and pooping schedules.

Fathers, in lower tones, will mostly share advice on domestic survival.

We've named Baengy's favourite item of clothing The Mongol Vest. We're thinking of embroidering the name Ghenghis Bhaeng on the back.

Then all she'll need is a motortricycle. 

I tend to wake up in a similar position to how I fall asleep, while Heather and Baengy apparently share a gene that sees them wake up in all sorts of amusing contortions. Sometimes Baengy wakes up on the opposite end of the bed, and sometimes on the floor. The photo above is how I found her during one of her daytime naps, which usually last for around 45 minutes.

At the time, she may have been dreaming about a certain platform hero.

Baengy developed limited motility a couple of months ago. The first movements were fairly reptillian in aesthetic terms, mainly consisting of her swatting the floor with her palms and pulling herself around on her stomach.

Within a few days, it progressed into something reminiscent of a wounded soldier, still awkward but appreciably more human.

Strangely enough, her first movements occurred when we weren't watching. At first we wondered how she was flipping herself over on her stomach. With baby limbs, this can be more difficult than it sounds.

We discovered that she was employing the principle of angular momentum.

Then there were a few false starts. It was as if she knew what she wanted to do, but was yet to figure out the coordination necessary.

After that, we had a short period where she was crawling around, but only if we weren't watching. Whenever she started crawling, we would sit and stare, causing her to just sit and stare back at us. Eventually we found that she could be coaxed into moving with a dried blueberry.

One of our most useful items has been this babywalker, which has served as a handy place to put her when dishes need to be washed. The table keeps most things out of grabbing distance, which is important because that which can be grabbed can also be chewed.

It has also taught her a lot about basic movement, including the idea that walls generally cannot be traveled through.

She has since picked up a fair bit of speed and now responds to her name, or any name for that matter, if spoken in a tone that is sufficiently enticing. Her new skills and heightening awareness ensure that she's an attention magnet, pretty much anywhere we bring her. And that's good news for us.

All in all, I would have to say that dwarf people are fairly high maintenance, but well worth the effort.