Chronicles of Sadie

Sometimes You’ve Got to Bear-Crawl Before You Can Walk

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In the first year, mobility is the key indicator of what stage of development your baby is in. Sure, cognitive responses, motor skills, and verbal responses are all very important, but no other factor changes the very culture of your home as mobility.

The first couple of weeks are pieces of cake as far as mobility is concerned. Little munchkins can barely turn their heads, so if you decide to put them down in one place, when you return you can rest assured they will have not migrated anywhere else on their own.

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Then comes rolling over. For us, Sadie rolled over—against all odds and statistical data available—when she was three-weeks old. Again with the overachieving. At that point, you’ve got to be cognizant of possible hazards in the crib and positions where she might inadvertently obstruct her breathing. You can no longer just lay her down for a second on the bed without keeping a close eye on her. Already, your radius of freedom has been shortened.

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Next is sitting up. Ah, this is where it starts to get good. Sadie turned into a little tripod, sitting up and steadying herself with one hand while the other hand was either holding something or was jammed halfway down her throat in an attempt to soothe her teething pain. Here, the plot thickened, as did the consistency of the food she was eating. At this stage, awareness seems to heighten by the day and there is no turning back—you better plan on sleeping with one eye open from here on out.

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Then one day our little princess decided it was time move across the floor on her own. Now I don’t really know how it works for everybody else’s children, but my rugrat hits her benchmarks only when she perceives a possible benefit for her own goals. In other words, she ain’t doing it until she has a good reason to do it—such as a toy or a puppy just out of reach. The crawling began with an army-style crawl on her belly. I’m not proud of it, but Laura and I would take certain toys we knew she wanted and place them about six-inches from her grasp. She would reach and reach and eventually rock, writhe, and slither her way forward to get what she wanted.

From that belly crawl, Sadie would get up on all fours and tease us for weeks at a time. She would rock back and forth, then go back down on her belly to crawl. Then one day, the lights came on—a green light to be exact—and Sadie was off to the races.

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Now I’m not adding a hint of exaggeration to this part. Once Sadie had the full-crawl down, she could pretty much outrun anyone in the house on all fours. Our hardwood-laminate flooring provided very little friction and thus only increased her need for speed. To be honest, Sadie stayed at the crawling stage a lot longer than I anticipated and I think I know why: she was so stinking efficient at it. If I could crawl that fast, I might choose to crawl around the office instead of walk—I could save so much time and garner a few odd looks all at the same time.

But Sadie again found that there were things she wanted that crawling simply would not facilitate. At this point, she was moving horizontally, but she was struggling to grasp the treasures that towered over her vertically. So she began to experiment with pulling up from a crawling to a standing position. I’ve often wondered how long it took babies to learn to walk before modern diapers were available. I say this because babies today have a distinct advantage with a huge padded cushion softening their hard falls. Sadie would stand for a moment and then would go down hard. Eventually, she learned to walk while holding on to the couch or to our hands, but the moment she wasn’t holding to something, she would instantly sit down.

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But those pesky items up high taunted her so. Therefore, she deduced that she could simply crawl to the counter, the chair, or whatever she desired to reach for, and then stand up when she got there. That created a season of half-walking, half-crawling—a bear-crawl, if you will (and I think you will.) Bear-crawling is crawling on your hands and feet. Back when I played football (and I use the term “played” loosely as I participated one solitary year in middle school), the bear-crawl was the favorite punishment of our coaches because it is so physically-demanding. Yet Sadie bear-crawled around our house like it was child’s play. Pun intended.

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How interesting that she chose to do something for so long that was more difficult than the very thing (walking) that she was so nervous to attempt. Do we not often do the same thing? Do we not let ourselves live in a habit, attitude, or lifestyle that is more detrimental to our well-being just because we are nervous to step out in faith as we know we ought to? If I commit to pray everyday, then I’ll get busy and forget and the guilt will be unbearable. If I give, what happens if I don’t have enough. If I forgive them, I won’t know how to act—I’ve carried this grudge for so long.

And so, we bear-crawl around—halfway in our past and halfway in our future. The Bible calls this mindset being lukewarm: a condition where we live in between the world’s desires and God’s desires for our lives. Thinking we can have the best of both worlds, we actually rob ourselves of the only “world” that really matters. Bear-crawling is still crawling. Lukewarm living is still living a life unpleasing to God.

To walk, you’ve got to stand up and take the chance of falling. Without walking, there is no falling—but there also is no walking.

Sadie was too young to reason with over the futility of bear-crawling, but we are not. That’s why God says, “Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless,
plead for the widow—” In other words, it’s time to walk! But he continues, “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.'” (Isaiah 1: 17-18 NKJV).

For Sadie, it only took a few steps and she’s been off to the races ever since. She went from crawling to sprinting in a matter of a few days. The same would probably be true for us.

I think God is probably still trying to reason with me. It’s time to stand up and move forward in maturity. We’ve got a “walk” with God to gain and a fruitless “bear-crawl” of lukewarm living to lose.

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