MAX AT NINE MONTHS
by Saul Turteltaub
Yes, at nine months Max began crawling. I realize there are many children who crawl earlier in their life but so what. Max didn't crawl until now because he was brought up on his back. He was never laid down on his stomach or allowed to sleep on his stomach to avoid suffocation. As a result, he was not used to pushing himself up to see what was going on. By lying on his back he saw everything, which accounts for his advanced intelligence and awareness over early crawlers. It is amazing that once he started crawling forward he mastered it quickly, making turns when necessary. He did, at first, crawl backward, something very few people have ever seen, and thereby earned the right to have that crawl named after him. He was doing "The Max." Make no mistake, crawling backwards is not silly. It allows more time to reconsider the possible dangers that lie ahead. If there are none, there is no harm done other than knocking down the Lego construction that stands behind him, something easily corrected by his mother. He still does not like to eat in his high chair, or at all for that matter, although he seems to like yogurt and will accept it whenever or wherever it is offered.
Max has arrived at the point where his aging is so rapidly progressive that it has given rise to consideration of my own mortality. At sixty-six, I have to think of the "Will-I-be-around-fors." Let us quickly dispense with the obvious. I will not be around for his swearing in ceremony as President of the United States: that is a minimum 34-plus years from now which would make me one hundred years old so I think the 2033 inaugural ball is out of the question. Nor do I believe I will be around for his college, or medical school graduation, nor am I going to buy him presents for those events in advance. There has to be something to soften the blow. I sincerely am not disturbed by the thought that I will not be present for those wonderful moments in his life, nor disappointed that I will never know exactly what profession he enters, and for that matter whom he marries and how many children he will have. If I see him to be a wonderful child at five, I'll know he'll have a wonderful life, and if he's a rotten five-year-old kid, I won't want to see him when he's six. There's some chance that I will be around for his high school graduation. While sixteen years from now does not seem far away, the age of 83 does seem truly unattainable. I will of course do my best to make it mainly because I don't want to ruin his day by everybody walking around sadly saying, "It's such a shame his grandfather couldn't have lived to see this. He would really be smiling that great smile of theirs."
Excerpted from The Grandfather Thing by Saul Turteltaub. Copyright © 2001 by Saul Turteltaub . All rights reserved. Excerpted by arrangement with Tallfellow Press. $16.95. Available in local bookstores or click here.