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Friday, August 17, 2007

Baby J has recently indicated to me that he would be much happier if I would take him to a room full of plastic toys and crackers a couple of times a week and leave him there for a few hours. He has exhausted all of the options I had for getting him off of my leg, so it's time.

For a while, he was happy in his bouncy seat. We loved that thing, because we could face it away from us (so he wouldn't know we were there, as long as we made no noise whatsoever. We got pretty good at miming, which was creepy) and take turns bouncing it with our feet until he fell asleep. It had the added bonus of being stylish, so made for some great photo ops. When he got sick of that, there was the play mat, that none of my other kids liked at all, so it was in great condition. Unfortunately, his romance with the play mat only lasted about three days.

During transition times (transitions from one Neglectomatic to another, that is), I've been known to resort to letting him sleep in the car. I know, I KNOW! They just came out with that study that says that sleeping in car seats kills, but he was exclusively breastfed (and would be still, if it weren't for the occasional snack), so doesn't that even things out? And the car seat is a really expensive one, so it must be safe, right? And I only did it a few times.

The high chair was a great option that lasted for a while. Putting snacks in front of kids will usually entertain them. I will admit to, on more than one occasion, giving him cookies with actual sugar to buy a few more precious moments of freedom. I've always said that I sympathize with Britney Spears; "But for the Grace of God Go I" and all that. I thought of her just yesterday, when I turned toward the sound of giggling to see Baby J perched with one leg in the high chair, one leg dangling over the edge and his hands gripping the armrest like a gymnast grips a balance beam. Since I was pretty sure he didn't have the skills to push up into a handstand, I made like one of those cops who talk people down off the ledge (or bridge or high diving board above a pool with no water) and approached him slowly and calmly, careful not to startle him. I spoke in a soothing voice as I approached, "Mommy's coming...goooooooood Baby J... doooooooon't move, sweetheart...Mommy's aaaaaaaalmost the--" And he leapt into my arms when I was about two feet away. I caught him, but just. And he was strapped into the high chair at the time. And I should have known he was going to jump because, in the words of Max Berman ("Best in Show"), "They all jump." So I feel for Britney (or I did. Now, maybe not so much. Maybe we all just need to accept that K-Fed is meant to be a Daddy. It's what he does best, n'est-ce pas?)

We've made various attempts to block exits from the kitchen, so he could crawl freely. We even put extremely high tech rubber bands on the cabinets to keep him from opening them. As an aside, I have to say that I think cabinet locks are usually unnecessary. If you have something truly toxic, it needs to be totally out of reach. As far as a baby just getting into your glass casserole dishes or whatever, the rubber bands seem to work fine. All three of my children, when confronted with the rubber bands, have tried a few times to get the cabinets open and quickly given up, accepting that they just don't open any more. We leave one or two un-rubber banded cabinets filled with plastic stuff that they can play with and that seems to be enough. Added bonus: the plastic "kid" cups and dishes are on their level, so when they get older, they can get their own drinks. And if you send your kids to Montessori School, they'll learn how to pour without spilling too much and wipe it up if they do. Worth every penny of private school tuition, I tell ya'. And goody for you if you have access to a public Montessori.

More and more desperate, we've resorted to things like leaving the shower on and letting him play in it. But, now he wants to stand up in there, so it's no longer an option. Letting him play with the camera charger was good for a few days, but that's over. Chewing on cotton balls was too much of a choking hazard and too disgusting to watch. His brothers and the Glorious S from next door (my Summer Saviour, the ever on-call babysitter) are going back to school on Monday and will no longer be available as paid entertainment.

Anyhow, these days, all bets are off and Baby J wants to be social. I now drink my morning coffee (and my increasingly frequent evening wine) on the floor, so I can play ball with him. Playing ball is good, because he stays at least three feet away from me and doesn't try to stick his cute but grubby little fingers in my drink. I need to keep a ball in the bathroom, because I'm tired of trying to go with little fingers wedged between the toilet seat and my bum. Right now, the only way to get him to stop doing that is to let him eat toilet paper, unused of course (just what kind of parent do you think I am?) And I don't want to play ball in the bathroom. It's just not relaxing and that's one of my happy places.

So, Monday morning, bright and early, Baby J and I have a date with S and her Baby S to go register the boys at the local drop-in nursery that served me well in the past. X loved it and so will Baby J. And my sisters and brother went there and they turned out just fine (or so I'll claim, just in case they're reading this) As he has indicated at the gym, he loves a big loud room filled with plastic toys and other monsters adorable children. And I can't wait to have coffee with S. I won't have to chug it so Baby J can play with the cup and I'll be able to form a complete sentence without stopping to chase a baby.

Namasté, y'all!

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