Part Rant Part Adorable Baby Story Part Insight
Before having a baby I had no idea there were crawling races. Now however I have been enlightened. There are in fact crawling, walking, running and pushing a pusher races. There are probably more but that’s what I know about so far. Prior to having a baby I never thought I would put baby in one of these events. However, we have put our baby in three of these so far. You may wonder why. It’s a good thing to wonder.
First up we entered our baby into two crawling competitions for the simple reason that she loves crawling. The first time round she just sat their soaking up the attention. Good on her though because she was very happy. The second time round she even won the race. For those who have never seen these races though you may wonder what it looks like. The competitions are held in shopping malls to attract people with babies who would probably not have gone to the mall that weekend. The course is usually five metres long. There are five lanes and babies have to get from one end to the other. There are onlookers all around the track cheering and generally having a good time. Or just waiting for their baby’s turn. Parents try to get their babies to crawl unassisted for the five metres. This usually involves jiggling the baby’s favourite toy in front of them. For us it was using the video camera because our baby loves cameras. Tragically I did not press the record button. Silly daddy.
You may think that this kind of event sounds cruel or exploitative. I hadn’t really thought so until the weekend mainly because our baby always has a great time at these events. We took baby to a pushing pusher race because she loves pushing pushers. We arrived a little bit early so we had to wait for a few heats to finish before we could race. The whole time we waited baby was desperate to get to the race track. Next to the track was a playground area full of children but our baby quickly saw through this ruse and crawled straight for the tracks. When it came to our heat I had to hold baby back from the pusher. The announcer was going through the names and i was just thinking “Shut up and let us race.” When she called go baby jumped onto the pusher and sped down the track to the finish line in less time then it takes adults to walk down. I was tempted to turn her around and have her race back the other way since the rest of the group were no where near finishing. She had a great time laughing and smiling the whole time. Oh, there was no prize for coming first. Just bragging rights and a cool video if you pressed the record button. Purely for the fun of it.
Hang on though, I just mentioned that now I thought it was a little cruel. My story sounds very positive. Well for our baby it was but for the others there were tears and tantrums all round. Why? I couldn’t really figure it out at the time nor could baby. She was looking at the babies enviously as they got to be on the track playing. Don’t worry when the competition was over I let baby crawl all over the tracks. As we watched a few more heats though I started wondering why the parents were here. I knew why we were here but I didn’t know why they were here. At one point I noticed one green shirted boy chucking a tantrum on the track and remembered him from earlier. He had been playing in the playground area. When I saw him he was crying his eyes out. I don’t know why but he was. No one comforted him though. He ran out of where he was and knocked his head on the doorway and cried more. No one came. He tried to get through the doorway again at the same time as three other kids did and he ended up on the ground crying. Still no one came. I was amazed though to see all the kids patting him on the shoulder saying it was OK. However the parents were no where to be seen. I was even tempted to go in there and comfort the kid but I knew the last thing the kid needed was some lanky white guy coming in and comforting him. The mum eventually came after a good fifteen minutes of crying. It may have been longer since he was crying when I had arrived. So why did that parent bring her son to the race? The kid didn’t have any fun at all. He was balling in the playground and spent the race on the ground banging his fists. I never asked the mum why she was there. Maybe the boy was just having a bad day but he wasn’t the only one crying.
So why were the others crying? Some stood there crying while their parents dangled toys in front of them. In previous crawling competitions I’ve also seen the babies cry at the starter line. It’s pretty obvious if you think about it. There are a tonne of people around them and their parents just put them on the ground, walk away from them and sit five metres in front of them. They probably feel abandoned in an overstimulating environment. I don’t know about you but I find malls intense enough as an adult imagine what it must be like for a baby.
Other children that were crying were just lying on the ground not wanting to push the pusher. When our baby pushes away a toy it’s usually because she’s playing with another toy, she’s getting sleepy or because she wants to do something else. Of course I’ve never bothered trying to make her play with a toy she didn’t want to. So what’s going on here then? The kids probably wanted to keep on playing in the playground. Or maybe they were just tired and overstimulated. For me the point is really that if your kid doesn’t want to push the pusher don’t make them. It’s meant to be a fun event. In this guess pride or embarrassment obviously gets in the way. You may wonder what i would have done in baby didn’t want to push the pusher. I can’t imagine it happening but if she was there crying I would have given her a hug.
So overall what did I learn on the weekend. I learnt that if your taking your baby to an event make sure you’re taking them because you think they’ll enjoy it. More importantly though; if you’re taking your baby to an event that you think they’ll enjoy do what you can for them to help them enjoy it. Play and interact with them. Have fun with them. It’s their day after all.
- INVOLVING CHILDREN IN COMMUNITY PROJECTS-Baby Treats for the Babies at Young Parents Network (dayatb2k.wordpress.com)
- Slow Down Parents, Childhood is Too Fast (juliasherwin.wordpress.com)