Friday, January 4, 2008

free range chick

bug hates to be confined. i know no baby is happy to be strapped down, but bug really hates to be confined.

she raised holy hell the day i tried to put her in a playpen while she was still awake. she has slept in one, but we've never expected her to actually play in one before.

we were at a friend's and i didn't want her running loose while i scrapbooked. i put a bunch of toys in with her, but she had no interest. i tried feeding her. i tried nursing her. i tried laying her down with a bink. i changed her diaper. nothing stopped the lamenting and sometimes outright screaming. 40 MINUTES!

finally i pulled her out and set her on the floor in front of me, pondering my next move. lo and behold! she spied my scrap tote and was instantly entranced. she spent the next 20 minutes completely focused on getting my markers out of their little elastic loops. when she was finally successful, she then spent a chunk of time chewing on them and banging them together. she never managed to get any caps off and a few teeth marks won't affect their use. she roamed free, but not far, for the rest of the afternoon and never caused any trouble.

when i get home during the week, it is a crazy, hectic rush to get food prepared for pooka and i and then something for bug. if there is a crockpot meal ready, i plunk bug down in her highchair and placate her with some o's to munch. but if it will take any longer than slapping some food on a plate and sloshing some milk in a glass she won't tolerate it. so i let her roam the kitchen floor. (we used to put her in the pod chair on the floor, but she can now extricate herself from it with minimal effort. the effective use time of that device was depressingly short.) she can't open the cabinet doors yet, so she just plays with whatever's on the lowest shelves. we've done a little rearranging to ensure that said shelves contain plastic items. now that she's standing up, she amuses herself by trying in vain to grab the bread products from the next higher shelf. this is less of a hassle than listening to her whine from the dining room.

when we're downstairs perfecting the art of the couch potato watching tv folding laundry and mending clothes we create a mulit-part barricade consisting of:
one gate--blocking off the furnace area
one folding door--protecting the office
and a laundry basket wedged between the couches--to prevent her escape into the wilds of the basement

she happily cavorts in this free-form enclosure with rarely an effort to bust out. (well, there was that one time she fell head first into the laundry basket, but she was too shocked to take advantage of the proximity to freedom it allowed her). the drawbacks to this system are that we enclose two majorly baby-unfriendly attractions: the entertainment center with its attendant cords and buttons (no real interest, yet) and the coffee table with its irresistibly sharp corners.

seriously, her pull-to-stand obsession can only be sated by planting one hand on either side of these corners and staring straight at the point, daring it to rise up and impale her eyeball. we joke about the protection that she receives as a perk of the helmet, but it doesn't guard her face, and neither does she.

we need to find a cushion for the corners that works better than the flimsy foam we used when pooka was a baby. that stuff only lasted about 2 weeks because every time an adult walked by the table, they snagged the cushions and ripped them off.

maybe it won't be an issue too much longer, as bug is improving exponentially overnight in her standing stability. before we know it, she'll be running across the house chasing after her sister, gnashing her teeth.