Saturday, May 31, 2008

52 Weeks

Well, here it is, the big 5-2. Her birthday is not until Monday, but I am writing this for today’s date anyway. I’m not sure how long to continue writing these weekly things. She’s always doing new stuff, and it hasn’t gotten any easier to capture it all. I still miss things, which is why it takes me so long to post these. There’s always something I want to go back and add, something funny she did that I remember later.

She’s obsessed with eyes. She pokes us in the eyes constantly saying “Eyes? Eyes? Eyes.” She pokes the cats in the eyes while saying it. She reaches for the corners of strangers’ eyes and tries to caress the eyelids of sleeping babies. When we stop to pet a friendly dog she pats its head a few times, then goes right for the eyes. She has a book featuring a crab with tentacled “wiggly eyes,” and she uses her fingers to investigate these while saying “Eyes? Eyes?” She reaches up for my glasses and yanks them off. “Eyes,” she says firmly while touching my eyelids. “Eyes.” She considers my glasses, fingering them and smearing the lenses with little fingerprints. “Eyes,” she says while poking mine. She tries to put my glasses back on my face. “Eyes. Eyes.” She takes them off again. “Eyes.” We do this for ten minutes before she spies a cat and goes to try and poke its eyes.

She carries things around the house when she walks, so I am constantly finding Babylegs in the bathroom, or toys under the computer desk, or dirty laundry in her bedroom, or my underwear stuffed into a kitchen drawer. Things disappear from where they should be and reappear elsewhere, as though spirited by elves.

Last night we went to the bookstore, to kill some time and get out of the house for a while. She was delighted to walk around, yanking things off shelves and saying “Book? Book? Book? Book!” She knocked over stacks of them and picked up one and carried it around and dropped it and picked up another and carried it and dropped it somewhere else, all while saying “Book? Book? BOOK? BOOK?” The word surprised both Ryan and me, it was plain as day, the fully-formed b, the round o, the sharp k. We are always a little taken aback when a new word comes out, because she talks and babbles and coos all the time, and we understand her words for things, but it’s a surprise to hear a real word thrown in there.

All her words have a limited life span, though. She’ll start saying a new one, and use it constantly for a week or two, then it will disappear, rarely to be heard from again. I think we are working away from that, though. Right now there is the constant “Eyes? Eyes? Eyes?” but she also says “Dada!” whenever Ryan walks through the door and carries around her books going “Book? Booook? Book?” But she doesn’t say things like “hi” or “yum” or “good” (or, um, “Mama”) that she said a lot when she was younger.

These days there is a lot of screeching to get things she wants. If I’m standing at the counter typing on my laptop, she will yank on my clothes and scream when she wants my attention. Sometimes she pinches me, too. If I’m sitting on the couch and she wants up there, she stands in front of me and grits her teeth and screeches until I pick her up. If she’s frustrated, if she can’t reach something she wants, if we pick her up and carry her down the cereal aisle because we’d like to get out of the grocery store some time before we have to register her for kindergarten, she screams. All day long, it’s screaming, screeching, and more screaming.

We have become the parents you see headed out of a store muttering to themselves while clutching a screaming, kicking child under one arm. Most people either stare blatantly or avert their eyes in these situations, but whenever we see this happening to someone else now, we catch the other parents’ eyes and offer a look of sympathy. Of course, when we are out of eyesight of the other parents, we look at each other and smile in relief because some kid is screaming and thank God it’s not ours this time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Healthcare Crisis Hits (My) Home

Every time I hear someone yakking about how a national health care system would be SO terrible, it will RUIN everything, blah blah blah, I have always wanted to punch them in the face. With a brick. And then let them figure out how to get it fixed without relying on health insurance. Since becoming a parent, I have realized that it would be far more effective to round up the children of all those blustering politicians and well-fed middle-class buttholes, lock them in a room with some sharp objects, very tall climbing structures, fungus-infested bedding, a few viruses, and some food contaminated with E. coli, then ask their parents to pay out-of-pocket for any medical care they may need when they come out of that room. Because I have had many small heart attacks (and some whopping panic/creeping doom attacks) in the past year, and they are all related to the health and safety of our child.

Probably the worst tangible effect of our exodus from California was the loss of our (not that bad, comparatively speaking) health insurance, which we got at no cost through my husband's former job. We paid out-of-pocket for an appointment or two over the summer (like my 6-week post-partum checkup and Piper's two-month well child visit) and managed to secure state-funded health insurance for Piper after that. Ryan and I went without. We told ourselves it would be okay as soon as he got another teaching job, because jobs mean health insurance in this country. So when he did get the post in North Carolina, there was more than one reason why we breathed a sigh of relief. That relief turned to horror when Ryan called from his new digs to inform me that while he was covered under the North Carolina State Employees' Health Plan free of charge, it would be a minimum of $520 per month to buy even the cheapest, crappiest plan for Piper and me.

First I was shell-shocked. Five hundred dollars? REALLY? How do they expect people to pay that? It's nearly twice our car payment, and as much as a mortgage payment for some people. Then I was angry. He's a teacher, a job which is not known for being at the high end of the pay scale, having great perks, or being a low-stress situation. All that suckitude and they can't even make sure teachers' families can at least go to the doctor? He asked around, and it turns out we were not the first people to have these reactions, or to be potentially unable to afford the premiums.

We decided to pursue other options, which we have been doing in various forms ever since, and are still unable to bring the issue to a close. Piper and I are still without coverage. We've looked at dozens of online sites, which has resulted in my e-mail and phone being spammed by various spam-bots and one rather nasty asshat of salesman. We asked the carrier of our home and auto insurance, and they do have health plans, but those, like all the other options we've looked at, are going to cost us a small fortune.

I get hung up on a few things every time I try to go over this stuff:

1. I used to work in health care, and dealt with a lot of this, so I can at least wade through and understand some of the jargon. I used to get exasperated with people who couldn't understand how their health insurance worked; turns out I was just spoiled. Most of these plans involve a fair amount of calculations, caveats, conditions, and restrictions. Which really add up to "we are going to collect enormous premiums from you and still pay out nothing."

2. We are getting insurance because we need to have basic preventative services covered - that's all we ever use it for. Things like my yearly gyn exam, and Piper's well baby visits and shots. It would also be nice if I could get some birth control, but I can always go to Planned Parenthood and buy in bulk if I need to. But a significant number of the plans do not cover preventative services for the first twelve months. Wha-haaa? How does that make sense? "Hey, you're paying us all this money every month, but unless you are missing a limb, don't go to the doctor. You should totally wait until your cervical cancer/your baby's bowleggedness/that hacking cough are totally out-of-control conditions and will require lots of expensive treatment." One of the plans actually said "routine screenings (i.e. "check-ups" are not covered." Why would I pay $400 a month for something that will be TOTALLY USELESS to me for the first year?

3. I have had EVERY SINGLE agent/representative/salesperson we've talked to tell me "well, you're young and healthy, and the baby is healthy, so you shouldn't have to use it much. I mean, unless something happens, there's no reason for you to go into the hospital or anything, because you're young and healthy." At which point my husband usually has to stop me from standing on the salesperson's desk and screaming "THEN WHAT AM I PAYING YOU PEOPLE FOR?!"

"What am I paying you people for?" is really my prevailing sentiment about all this. So far, even the cheapest plan we've looked at will be $320 a month - PLUS a $3200 deductible that must be paid out before they will pay for anything. So, we will be $7040 in the hole every year before they start paying for things, and even then there's a $35 copay for office visits and $35/$50 copays for prescriptions. That $7040 is not much less than a year's worth of mortgage payments. We could be buying a second house for what this will cost. And if "something should happen" we'd still have to pay out a coinsurance which would amount to multiple thousands more dollars. So what are we paying them for again, exactly?

Truthfully, I don't think we spend $7040 in a year on healthcare. Maybe last year, yeah, what with having a baby by c-section and all, but since every single plan we've looked at (including the one offered through Ryan's work) charges an additional - rather hefty - charge for maternity coverage (which cannot be added to a plan after you are pregnant, you have to have it in place a certain amount of time before the pregnancy), we can't have any more babies anyway. Not that we were going to (and certainly not right now), but this insurance shit has taken the option off the table. Which, even though I don't feel like I want another one, annoys me just the same.

I'm exploring a low-cost children's plan through the state for Piper; from what I can tell we're over the income limit to qualify for straight Medicaid for both of us. Hopefully we can get her on this low-cost plan and I'll just have to do without. We are looking at taking a couple hundred dollars every month and putting it away in a HSA if we can, and failing that, a regular savings account. Because even with the insurance, I wouldn't be able to afford going to the doctor, so at least this way if "something should happen" we won't be counting on some insurance company to pay for something they're probably not going to pay for anyway.

I have started to cry more than a few times while looking at our options. They all suck, I am just having trouble trying to decide which one will suck the least. And when I look at the varieties of expensive suckiness available to us, I start to cry. I have stacks of brochures and charts with big fat teardrops staining them. I don't know how people afford this; I don't know why our president keeps telling us there's no problem with the way healthcare works in this country. None of which helps me right this minute. So I sit with my stack of charts and graphs and glossy, useless brochures and cry.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

51 Weeks

She fell out of the bath tonight.

She loves the bath and plays in it pretty well, so I usually put a couple inches of water in the tub, plop her in, and earn myself at least fifteen minutes without a child clinging to my clothes and screaming. I leave the bathroom door open and do things that, for the most part, keep her in my line of sight – doing laundry (laundry room is across from guest bath, where all Piper’s stuff is), picking up the detritus she leaves in her wake (toys, books, socks, mail, cat toys, diapers, blankets, baby wipes with bites out of them, crumpled paper, bites of spit-out cracker and banana) from at least part of the hallway/dining room floor, or feeding the cats and cleaning the litter boxes (cat room is next to guest bath). Tonight I put her in, picked up a few things, and, to put an end to the very irritating train of whining cats following me everywhere I went, fed the cats. Whenever I feed the cats, especially at their last feeding of the day (they get fed three times, at 5:00 or 6:00 am, 2-ish pm, and 10-ish pm), I have to make sure that all four of the boxes we currently have are spic-and-span before they’re done eating. We have nine cats and four boxes (that’s all we have room for), so I put only a tiny bit of litter in each one and scrape it completely out several times per day. After much experimentation/trial and error (heavy on the error), we settled on this as the cleanest, easiest system for everyone concerned. The problem is that we have a few furry members of the household who get upset if there is even the slightest hint that someone else has used a box recently, and all the cats like to eat and then take massive stinky craps or Niagra Falls-like pees, so if I don’t start with four clean boxes things get very unpleasant and I spend two hours trying to scrub cat piss out of somewhere that is not a litter box.

So I dashed into the cats’ room (a spare bedroom that contains all the food, litterboxes, and cat-climbing structures, and which is blocked by a baby gate in the doorway so Piper can't get in there), a trail of miaowing furballs behind me, and had just finished emptying the first box when I heard Piper start her “I’m ready to get out of the bath now” noises. I ran to the baby-gated doorway and peered around the corner at her. She was standing up in the bathtub, trying to lift one of her little legs over the side.

“Hang on, okay? Just give Mama a minute. Just one minute, okay?” I dashed back to the boxes and frantically scraped wet litter out into a plastic bag. All four boxes were wet, so if I didn’t do it now somebody was going to pee out-of-bounds before I could get back to them. I had to finish. Piper had tried to climb out of the bath before, but had never been able to, so I thought if I hurried the worst that would happen is I’d have to try and wash down an angry, wet baby.

She continued to fuss at me from the bath while I finished up, tied the bag, leapt over the gate, and ran through the kitchen to deposit it in the trash can outside the back door. I was washing my hands when I heard a small noise – like a thump but more muffled – and the chatter issuing from the bathroom stopped. I ran, hands dripping soap, into the bathroom to find her on her back next to the tub, looking very surprised and then starting to cry. Thank God I had folded a thick, huge bath towel and laid it next to the tub to soak up the water from her tidal-wave splashes. That was why I heard a small muffled thump instead of the crack of a baby head hitting concrete.

She cried a little as I cuddled her and recovered from my heart attack. Then I put her back in the tub, washed her up, dried her off, and tore up my imaginary entry form for the Mother of the Year contest.

Which is okay, I guess, because I was probably out of the running for that honor anyway. I can’t get her to eat anything right now other than black beans and cinnamon waffles. Like everything else, she goes through phases with food. Inevitably, as soon as I think I’ve got it figured out and I buy four containers of the star puffs or two pints of blueberries or three boxes of oyster crackers, she decides she’s done with that item and refuses to eat it anymore. We don’t have a high chair for her, so most of the time “eating” involves me chasing her around with a cracker or a piece of pancake or a spoonful of something trying to get her to stop bothering the cats and eat and get the cats to stop trying to eat her food and go away, all without covering the kitchen in organic blueberry yogurt or herbed chicken couscous. It’s frustrating for all involved and I think I give up too easily. She’s still nursing a fair amount, so I figure she’s getting proper nutrition as long as I’m eating okay and taking my vitamins. I will also selfishly admit that my avid little nurseling probably has a lot to do with why I can fit into my skinny jeans with room to spare lately and therefore I’m in no hurry to cut her off.

Speaking of nursing, I took her to a couple of local La Leche League meetings this week so I could get out and meet some people and she could get out and play with some other kids. It was nice, but exhausting. I used to go to LLL every month when we lived in Plymouth, it was a wonderful source of support and encouragement for me. I met some really great mamas that way and am good friends with a couple of them now. Those meetings were somewhat smaller than the ones I attended this week, both in numbers of attendees and size of venue. I’m used to it being a smallish group in a medium-sized room, plenty of space for everyone’s kids to roam around and a door that shuts firmly so nobody wanders off. Last time I went, in March (when we were still in Michigan), Piper was cruising furniture and crawling around, but all I really had to do was keep her from crawling over the tiny babies lounging on the floor or taking other kids’ toys. These were my first meetings since Piper has started walking outright and what a difference! Bigger rooms, more kids, more space to roam = I spent most of the time snatching her away from a small baby she was attempting to poke the eyes of or apologizing for the fact that she stuck her hand in some other kid’s snack tin of crackers or giving back toys that she had picked up and carted away. All I could think was “Oh, God how did I get the crazy kid? How did I end up with the kid you see tear-assing around getting into things?” She wasn’t bad or out-of-control or anything. She was just very active and interested in everything, which can be exhausting to keep up with.

It's the 24th, which was my due date. Last year at this time, I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs and looking expectantly at my belly. How strange that all seems to me now.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Daddy Is Golden

A few friends have asked me how Piper did with Ryan when we first moved down here, after being away from him for three months. They were a big three months – when he left, she was just starting to scoot around, just showing the beginnings of her army-crawl. When we met up with him again, she was crawling in earnest, chattering away, and thisclose to walking.

The truth is, she was fine with him, great in fact. When we picked him up at the airport, she fairly leapt into his arms. A few times that night and the next she insisted on me over him when she’d bonked her head or was tired, but that was all. Didn’t skip a beat, really.

And now? She adores him. When he’s home, she follows him around and has to be near him. She cries and pounds on the door when he leaves and tries to run after him. One day we were playing outside and when he left to go do some errands, she wailed and charged towards the street, then ran down the sidewalk after his car. When he comes home, she lights up. She squeals “Dada!” and runs at him as fast as she can go, beaming. Every time he lays on the floor to watch TV or read or play video games (the man cannot do any of those things sitting up like a normal person, don’t ask me why, at this point I just sigh and try not to trip over him), Piper has to run up and tackle him, then wrestle until they are both tired.

Not only that, but she sits still for him during diaper changes. It must be love.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

50 Weeks

Really, she just keeps getting more and more fun. She laughs when we laugh now, and her laugh sounds like “Oh ha ha ha ha ha, guys! I’m right there with you! I totally get the joke and it is SO FUNNY! You guys are hilarious and I’m laughing to let you know that I totally understand what’s going on! Hear that? That is the sound of me definitely knowing why I am laughing, as I can assure you that I am not just copying you, nossiree!” And she’ll look from one of us to the other while doing it, watching us for cues on when to stop.

She also likes to smoosh our faces together to make us kiss. We’ll be standing close to each other and one of us will be holding her and she’ll reach out and push one person’s face into the other so we kiss. We kiss, a big smacker with a “MWAH!” sound, and pull apart to find her grinning. Then she makes us do it again, and again, and again, grinning the whole time.

Now that she is walking, the cats are experiencing a whole new level of terror. She can chase them around – occasionally while holding one of them by the tail – and follow them into places that were formerly baby-resistant. She loves them…a lot. Her favorite sport these days is Chick Wrestling, a hilarious game in which she body-slams our sweet, slow, lazy 17-lb tabby and then rolls back and forth over him while cooing, chattering, and saying “as eee” (“that kitty”) and “ei nee” (“nice kitty”) over and over. Sometimes she holds his face and pokes him in the eyes, asking “Eis? Eis? Si eee eis?” Chick is usually very patient and just whines for rescue until I run up and tell Piper that yes, those are the nice kitty’s eyes, and if you don’t stop poking them he’s going to bite you and it will serve you right because you know better. When he is in a peevish mood, he gives her a few warning meows before he nips or scratches, and since I tell her every time please don’t bother the kitty and, most of the time, drag her off him at least once, I feel it’s only fair to let him defend himself as long as he doesn’t get too rough. One day he bit her hard enough to almost draw blood, and I let him know that that was unacceptable, but most of the time I don’t intervene. Eventually, they’ll figure it out themselves.

I’m sure the grandparents will have fits when they show up to visit and Piper’s arms and legs have scratches all over them, but I am also sure that will be just one item on the list of Ways I Am Failing Their Grandchild. It is a list which will probably also include items like Refusing to Allow Anything With Elmo On It To Enter My House, Begging Them To Stop Buying Her Truckloads of Cheap Plastic Crap, and Lobbying For Them To Buy Quality Wooden Toys and Fancy Cloth Diapers Instead of Seventy-Five More Carter’s Outfits From Kohl’s.

Since we are preparing for the grandparents to swoop down in a few weeks, they are on my mind right now. I’m not sure how it’s going to go, because while Piper was always a pretty active baby, since she’s started walking, that’s pretty much all she does. She just goes from room to room all day (destroying, unfolding, un-stacking, emptying, and unloading things) amusing herself, occasionally stopping by with a book for me to read or taking a break to wrestle one of the cats. I’m certain the grandparents are going to want to hold/hug/cuddle her (particularly Ryan’s mom, who never has been able to understand that Piper doesn’t like that, so stop squeezing her and she’ll stop crying), and that is just not on Piper’s agenda.

Maybe they’ll be content to watch her walk around – it is pretty cute. She does jazz hands when she walks, with her arms bent at the elbows, hands wiggling up near her ears. Most of the time, it’s better than TV to just watch her wander around, doing jazz hands and babbling away.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Like Wildfire

I'm sure pretty much everybody has already heard, but:

The California Supreme Court has overturned the ban on gay marriage.

Here's an LA Times article, too.

I am hopeful, but not about ready to start lighting fireworks and popping champagne yet. Hate groups Conservative religious political groups are already circulating petitions for an amendment to the state Constitution that would definitively block same-sex marriage. That bonehead Governor Schwarzengger has already vetoed bills passed by the Legislature allowing same-sex marriage. He always says the veto is "the will of the people." Uhh, you mean the people who elected the people who passed the bill? Natch.

And, as the LA Times article points out, this sort of lights a fire under those opposed to same-sex marriage, because nobody can say 'Oh, it'll never happen, quit worrying' anymore.

To which I always say: What BUSINESS is it of yours? Why do you care who gets married and who doesn't? It has absolutely no effect on you. Find something more important to worry about. Like a device that will keep socks from getting lost in the dryer.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Further Evidence The Internet Should Be Dismantled

Or at least a case for being able to criminally prosecute people for Emailing Without Brain Cells.

My mother forwards things. There are days when I am deeply sorry I ever helped her set up a Hotmail account. Some sharp words and some begging have gotten her to stop forwarding me things with titles like I AM A BAD AMERICAN or CHRISTMAS IS UNDER ATTACK!!!!!! And somehow my siblings and I were able to convince her to let my dad check most of the MISSING! BABY! PLEASE! HELP! and THIS CHILD HAS CANCER AND HER ONLY WISH IS TO SEE FOUR TRILLION NAMES ON THIS FORWARD BEFORE SHE KICKS IT things before she sends them. It has at least slowed the deluge of crap she perpetuates; I still get ones about Friendship and Love and Send This To Five Women Who Rock! but I'll take those over stupid, inane rants about how OMG gas is SO expensive you guys! Everybody, don't fill up your car on April 23rd, that'll show 'em! or the far-worse racist idiocy that gets billed in some circles as "just speaking the truth."

Tonight I got a forward which prompted the following reply:

MOM! Please check Snopes before you forward things!

I am very disappointed in you! You took a lot of Chemistry to get that nursing degree, you should be able to spot a fake like this a mile away. And as a R.N., you shouldn't be encouraging people to put hydrogen peroxide into their mucous membranes. Does soaking any part of your body in peroxide for ten minutes really sound like a good idea? That's not just bad advice, it's DANGEROUS.

I'm sure it won't sink in, but at least I've done my part to try and make the world a little less stupid.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

49 Weeks: Symphony of Destruction

I had been feeling like a complete asshole because our house, for the most part, still looked like someone threw a hand grenade into a moving truck. Turns out the baby's destructive tendencies were the reason I couldn’t get the house together. Ryan took her out Thursday night for a couple of hours, and I unpacked all the stuff in the living and dining rooms (which included five huge tubs of our clothes and a significant amount of spare bedding), put it all away, straightened up, and cleaned. Two hours without the baby and it looked like an actual home instead of a squatter encampment constructed entirely of fleece blankets, DVD box sets of Joss Whedon shows, and cheap t-shirts from Target. The next day she took a hour-and-half long nap and I got our entire bedroom done. It’s much bigger without boxes of crap lining all the walls. Ryan came home from work that day and kept her busy for an hour and her room no longer looked like a Babies R’ Us had dumped a supply truck in the middle of the floor. We’ve lived here for a month, and I felt like a gigantic slacker because the only room in any sort of working order was the kitchen, so I was relieved to discover that I could actually blame the mess on my child. Now we just have to keep both sets of parents from toting carloads of crap down here and dumping it off.

On the other hand, she requires somewhat less entertaining these days precisely because she can roam the house looking for things to do. I am so very, very glad to have this house right now. We don’t have a lot of stuff at the moment, and there’s not much she can hurt (or hurt herself with). It’s one level, so I no longer have to worry about her climbing up or tumbling down stairs, and now that I have things 90% unpacked and put away, most of the maintenance is vacuuming every day so the entire house doesn’t turn into a giant hairball. When I need to do something, I can just turn her loose and let her toddle around. I still spend time with her, of course. We read books every day, books and books and books. Sometimes we (try to) go for a walk. We wrestle (she’s a pretty rough-and-tumble little kid, and wrestling on our bed is a full-contact sport), we do piggyback rides. She likes handing me things, so I get her to help me sort laundry or load the washer. She really, really likes wrestling the cats. For example, as I type this she is body-slamming and then crawling over poor Chick while chattering and giggling away.

We haven’t done very many (or, um, any) out-of-the house activities yet, since our one-car situation means that if I want to do something during the day, I have to get up at 5:00 am, put the baby in the car, and drive Ryan to work, drive home since nothing’s open that early, do my stuff during the day, then pick him up in the afternoon. Piper still wakes up 2-3 times a night, and doesn’t usually settle in for her longest stretch of sleep until 2:00-3:00 am so most days I do not feel like dragging my ass out of bed at 5:00. I’ll have to start soon, though, or I’ll never meet anyone. When we were in Plymouth, I’d made some friends with women who have babies around her age and we’d go to lunch or the indoor playground or the park or coffee together at least once a week, and I am hoping to make some similar friends here to do the same with. I miss having friends to talk to, and judging by the enthusiasm with which Piper greets the neighbor kids, she misses her friends, too. I put together a list of area storytime events, toddler-friendly activities, and La Leche League meetings so we have plenty to pick from every month.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

48 Weeks: I'm Walkin' Yessiree

So, she is off like a rocket.

We went from being able to coax her into walking from one of us to the other to chasing her around in the space of three days. We both thought hey! It’ll be so much FUN when she can walk, we won’t have to carry her everywhere and she’ll tire herself out and she’ll be so cute in those little shoes!

Um, yeah, well, objects in rearview mirror may appear smaller than they are.

It’s kind of fun, holding her hand as she toddles around. And yes, the sandals we bought her are very cute. But trying to get her to walk the same place we are walking is almost impossible, and when we’re walking outside she runs for the street every chance she gets. My friend’s son used to do this, too, and come to think of it every newly-walking toddler I’ve encountered has a magnetic attraction to That Place Where Cars Go. I don’t know why, maybe something about the weight of a child at that age and the Earth’s gravitational field. Whatever the reason, it can be a very exhausting and frustrating business to herd her where we need to go. Today I tried to take her for a walk around the neighborhood, hoping it would tire her out a little and help coax her into an afternoon nap, but we only got four houses down before I got frustrated, picked her up, and trucked on home. It took us twenty minutes to cover 500 ft. of sidewalk, with me yanking her out of people’s yards and swatting her little hands away from plants I couldn’t identify and stopping her from eating grass and waiting around as she stopped to whack on every utility box, light pole, and tree trunk we encountered, then running right back to it when I tried to drag her farther down the street. By the time we got home, I was the one who needed a nap.

The increased mobility has also increased her mess-making ability. I already spent most of my time following her around the house cleaning up the things she destroys, but it’s worse now. Instead of crawling or scooting from one room to the next, all she need do is get up and WALK! Walk to the kitchen and pull things out of cupboards and drawers. Walk to the computer room and unload a box of books waiting to be unpacked. Walk to the living room and unload a basket of clean and freshly-folded laundry. Walk to the bathroom and smash her fingers in the toilet lid, then pound on the lid and scream because something is smashing her fingers. Walk back into the living room and take all her books out of the basket next to the reading chair. Walk into her room and unload the bookshelf, the sock drawer, and rearrange the neat piles of baby clothes I set aside to get rid of. Walk into the bedroom and shut the door then scream because the door is shut and it won’t open.

And all this while I was feeding the cats.