We took Nico to a gallery on Friday night because, well, what else do you do in Lubbock on a weekend?
It was part of the monthly First Friday art walk and we stopped first at a place called Glass Alley. It was a warehouse with a leaky roof, but there were some nice shiny pieces inside so Nico was happy.
I was there, Nico in my arms, contemplating a framed painting that was supposed to double as a tackboard, when I noticed another baby in the room. A woman with long gray hippy hair and matching hippy attire was holding a small baby about Nico’s age. The child was dressed in a snug knit sweater and had huge doe eyes. I took Nico over to say hi.
The baby, it turns out, was twelve months already. The woman, it turns out, was the grandma, and she I starting talking “shop,” as in we started talking about our respective babies, what they do, what they like, what we like to dress them in, etc. Meanwhile Nico and doe-baby (whose name was Raven or something like that) would periodically lean in toward each other and touch heads. I imagined they were having some strange higher-level-consciousness osmosis conversation that we could never understand and neither of them would remember when they’re grown.
At some point, the subject of child movement came up and the hippy grandma woman said that Raven was already beginning to walk a bit. She asked about Nico and I said she was starting to pull herself up but still hasn’t learned to crawl.
The woman’s eyes widened.
“But she has to crawl!” she said. “It’s important for the development of the neurons. Learning to crawl stimulates their brains and helps them grow up smart.”
I flinched. Was she preemptively calling my baby dumb?
“Well she might just be one of those who walks but never crawls,” I responded, trying to keep my cool. We have been putting Nico in “tummy time” for months now, but the closest she comes to crawling is a backward crab scoot.
“I don’t care,” the pushy grandma said. “If she walks, push her down. Make her crawl.”
Suddenly I had a nagging desire to go check out the bathtub full of giant glass balls near the front of the gallery. I excused myself from hippy grandma’s cluthces and headed toward the door with Nico in arms. But I was livid. “Can you believe the gall,” I said to Marta. Though we were talking in Spanish and I don’t know the word for gall so probably I said something like, “Que puta!”
But, of course, the next day the woman’s “advice” began to nag at me.
“Maybe Nico will never learn to crawl and she’ll grow up stupid,” I said to Marta, only half-kidding.
I was on our new rug with Nico. It’s the rug my parents got her for Christmas from IKEA, one with a giant yak on it that we picked out with the express purpose of giving Nico more room to crawl. But so far she has used it for, 1) sitting, 2) lying on her back 3) spitting up, 4) rolling around, and 5) occasionally lying on her stomach and scooting backwards for a while before getting frustrating and beginning to cry.
As it turns out, fears of non-crawling-related developmental delays are more common than I had realized. After Marta assured me that Nico would be fine, I turned to Google for more advice. Google sent me to several articles, all with the word “medical” or “health” in the url and many of them said that, yes, Nico would be developmentally delayed if she doesn’t ponerse las pilas (Spanish expression literally meaning put your batteries in, but figuratively meaning, get your butt in gear) and start crawling.
Then I stumbled upon a Slate article that made me feel a whole lot calmer. Basically, it says that there is absolutely no proof that crawling does anything to help brain development, that this is a myth that got started a while back and continues to be perpetuated because of women like hippy grandma at the art gallery.
And, so. I have decided to take a deep breath. And just let Nico be who she is. Or how she is. In whatever position she so chooses.