I had been expecting it to happen for some time now. For the past few weeks I had watched as Kiley had become more and more active when I laid her on her stomach. This is usually on the floor where I lay her down on a blanket or baby mat surrounded by objects designed to amuse those of her kind. "Squeak Toy", "Rattle", stuffed animals, plastic blocks, and a multitude of other objects in various colors and textures are arrayed around her like a court of hopeful petitioners vying for the favor of Her Royal Majesty. At four months of age she is able to support her upper body with her arms and look around, which affords her the opportunity to spot something interesting and desire it. This leads to stretching and reaching and wiggling as she tries to seize upon the correct method for moving in one direction or another. This is the beginning of the long road that, through trial and error, will lead to creeping then crawling, standing, walking, running, driving, hang gliding and God knows what else as she progresses from the infant her mother and I can contain, control and protect to the child, girl, and woman that we can merely watch and worry about. She took the first step in that process just recently. She had raised her upper body with her arms and was wiggling with determination; her eyes focused on a particular item of interest, when it happened. Wiggling just a little too forcefully and leaning just little too far to the left she suddenly lost her connection to the floor and rolled over onto her back. Trumpets! Fanfare! Haaaaaaaallelujah! A developmental milestone has been reached! I'm so proud.
It wasn't long before she was rolling over onto her back on a regular basis and at will. Once babies do something new they figure out how to keep doing it real quick. They're smart that way. The first time she rolled onto her back was an accident, but no more. Having new and amazing abilities is fun and once she did it she wanted to do it again. So it wasn't long before she got the method down and was rolling over like a brand new convertible with a texting teenager at the wheel. Her method is simple and effective – push up with your arms, tuck your left arm in while leaning to the left and gravity does the rest. Now I can't put her down on her stomach without her rolling over onto her back. She loves it, rolling over onto her back that is. But being on her back? That's another subject.
It is one of life's ultimate ironies that rolling over from your stomach to your back is a lot easier than rolling over from your back to your stomach. Anyone under the age of six months and over the age of fifty can tell you that. When rolling from stomach to back gravity is your friend and cheerfully assists you in your endeavor, but with the return trip gravity is your enemy and fights you all the way over. So infants are able to roll from stomach to back before they are able to roll back the other way. Unfortunately, when you are a baby, being on your back is not nearly as desirable as being on your stomach. A turtle can tell you that. You can't do anything on your back. You can't look around, you can't raise your upper body, you can't fish and wiggle toward something you want, and you certainly can't roll over onto your back which, at this particular point in your development, is about the funnest thing there is. All you can do after the fun is through is stare at the ceiling, wave your arms, and kick your feet. And complain. And fuss. And cry.
So now I have a problem. I lay her down on her stomach and it's not long before she flips over onto her back. But she doesn't want to be on her back so she starts to complain, and her complaining grows and grows until I remedy the situation by turning her back over onto her stomach. At which point - you guessed it - she flips once again onto her back. An infant rolling over onto her back is like a toddler sliding down the sliding board. Once the fun of the "slide " is through they are stuck at the bottom and need you to help them back to the top so they can slide again. Is there any one with a small child who hasn't hated the sliding board and its incessant demands at some point? Now imagine you have a toddler with a "pocket sliding board" so that everywhere you go the sliding board goes with you and every day is a continuous cycle of sliding and re-sliding with your assistance not only required but demanded. That's what an infant who has just learned to roll over onto its back is like.
There's really not much that can be done about it. I suppose I could try to prevent her from rolling over but that would require even more effort than what I am trying to circumvent. And besides, that would be like preventing a bird from flying or a badger from digging. Nature just needs to take its course. Once they can roll over onto their backs it's never very long before they can do the opposite, so I just have to bide my time and encourage her in her efforts to perfect the back-to-front-roll. It won't be long. Still, it would be helpful if someone would invent a device to assist with this. A series of levers strategically fastened to the shoulder and hips perhaps, or maybe several small thrusters – you know, like little rockets. They could come with pink or blue smoke and would make an ideal shower gift. NASA should get to work on it. They need to find something to do anyway since they don't go to space anymore. They could even design slightly larger ones with just enough umph to lift a toddler about five feet off the ground and then sell them as a set with the "pocket sliding board". That would be great! Problem solved.
This post linked to the GRAND Social.