Tate, my grandson, turned over this week. I know because his proud father called to tell me the news. I oohed and aahed over how clearly this established him as one advanced little boy. I know which side my Gramma Bread is buttered on. The next day I got a call from my daughter-in-law, who further embellished the story.

That got me thinking. Here they are all excited about a 5-month-old flipping from back to front and back again. They are not seeing the big picture. This one skill, however minor, changes everything. No longer is he that creature they could place somewhere and know he would be in the same place, smiling that toothless grin, safe as all get out, when they looked back. Nope, now he could become a whirling dervish who in a matter of seconds would be tangled up in the cords dangling behind the entertainment center, partaking of the puppy’s Alpo or shredding their latest issue of Parents magazine.

We have been programmed to believe that babies learn in increments so that they can slowly adjust to their new power. But surprise, surprise–that is not the truth. They learn one step at a time so that Mom and Dad can adjust to their loss of power. First it’s turning over, then crawling and before you know it he’ll be wanting to borrow the car keys. I can see it coming but that’s no reason to spoil the magic of this moment for them.

So I ask, “Did he laugh when he turned over?” And his mother replied, “He did. But he also seemed confused and maybe a little bit proud.” Yes, I thought, and it’s only the beginning of the confusion, the laughter and the pride in this process we call growing up.