Experts say that when you speak to a child, you should get down to their eye level to talk to them. I have also read that the most efficient method of childproofing your home is to crawl around on your hands and knees to see the room the way your child does. After an extended effort to see his world through Baby’s eyes, I have learned this unavoidable truth: my 11 month old son is running rings around me and there is no way to stop him.
Baby and I spent an hour in our little living room, examining the landscape together. The following is a complete and unedited transcript of the event as it happened.
Me: Let’s start at our previously established weak point, the entertainment center. Now that it’s padlocked and braced with extra dowels inside, components are secured. TV is far enough back, the cabinet is screwed to the wall, and pushing the center at baby’s level reveals little to no wobbling/shaking. Excellent. Moving on…
Baby: Hey look! There’s a baby in there! What if I wave hi? HOMG he’s waving…wait. It’s me in there! How did I get in there? I need to pound on the glass to feel me in there! poundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpound
Me: Bookshelves flanking entertainment center: screwed into walls and we put the heaviest books on the bottom of the shelves. He can’t pull them out and all the chock- chotzkees-chochky dammit. Trinkets are out of reach.
Baby: poundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundooooh! Books! I love books! I’m gonna pull some out and suck on one. I like the big green one. Pull out and GAH! HEAVY! Sad. So sad. Too heavy to put in my mouth, so saaaaad and waaaaaaaaah.
Me: Hey! What’s wrong? Are you OK? Why are you–wait. Where are you going?
Baby: OSCAR! IFUCKINGLOVETHISCAT. Gotta follow the cat. Gotta follow the cat. Gotta follow the cat. NO! I wanna snack on the book! Noooo, follow the cat!
At this point baby executes a move where he buttscoots half way across the room only to do a 180 and come right back. We call this his Crazy Ivan move.
Me: Soft. Soft, baby. Soft! If you want to pet Oscar you have to be soooooft. Hey– Oscar fits under the couch. Could Baby fit under the couch? I’m going to see how big the opening is… ooof. Oh man. I think I’m stuck halfway under the couch. SOFT, BABY!
Baby: Mommy’s busy. I bet this is a good time to see if the stairs are free.
Me: No! No! Hey! Hey! Baby! Look! Come here! Don’t go over there, don’t go (sound of me dislocating shoulder from under couch) WAIT! What about the Christmas tree? That’s new! That’s shiny! That’s tantalizing and forbidden and just out of reach! Why don’t you head for that?
Baby: Yeah, I saw that go up. Honestly, it’s so obviously a trap I can’t be bothered.
Me: No really! It’s there all month! Lights, shiny ornaments, breakable things, this should be your Mardi Gras.
Baby: Mommy, put your shoulder joint back in then pick me up so we can discuss the entrapment bullshit. You don’t even let me have cereal puffs without supervision, now the holiday shrub is fair game?
Me: Nah, you’re right. As long as we’re talking candidly, anything else you see down here you could kill yourself on?
Baby: You know I can’t stay away from the slidy thingies on the outlets but newsflash; that’s not the clear and present danger. The real story here is your stupid glider footstool.
Me: Beg pardon?
Baby: That sucker is amazing. If I pull myself up on it, I’ll lose my balance, fall backwards and bonk my head which is 10 minutes of crying at a minimum. If I pitch forward my only tooth will get knocked out. Thirty minutes crying plus a frantic call to your dentist. Check out the bottom of the footstool. Pinch my fingers or get bonked in the forehead depending on direction and force I push/pull. If I escape all that, I’ll push myself up on it, then try to walk and I’ll take my first steps all alone and you’ll miss it because you’re stuck under the couch. You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?
Me: Oh, for crying out loud. Isn’t it time for you to go to to the middle of the room and do a Crazy Ivan or something?
Baby: Good talk, mom. Where’s Oscar?