A 10-month-old’s guide to playing with stuff (aka, notes from 10 months)

“Look mom! Now I can roll off this thing straight onto my head!”

Mobility is a funny thing. Every movement a baby makes toward that pinnacle of baby milestones–walking–makes parents have this sequence of reactions:

  1. “OHMYGOSH! He’s [insert milestone here: rolling over, sitting, crawling, pulling up, etc.]! OHMYGOSHHEDIDITAGAIN!”
  2. Grab camera
  3. Take 55 pictures and videos of the moment exactly preceding and following the milestone, but somehow manage to not get a good picture or video of the event again
  4. Get excited to see the milestone for the next week
  5. Realize that this newfound mobility actually means a new level of chasing a baby and watching as he manages to inch himself toward certain death
  6. Immediately put out every possible toy “guaranteed” to amuse and/or educate your child in some way.
  7. Watch child look incredulously at the toy, then at you, then toss the toy aside and again move toward certain death

Wait, what? 

En garde!

“Your toys? I laugh at your toys! This cabinet is much more enjoyable to explore! Ha HA!”

Yup. If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a million-and-one times. It’s simply the darnedest thing.

Before I quit my job almost a year ago to become a stay-at-home mom, one of my most favorite work tasks in the world was making flow charts. I would make them unprompted. I think I once made a flow chart about flow charting. I made a verb out of flow charts. There’s something about a flow chart that just makes sense with how my mind works. I find them calming. A year later as I was pulling my son out of the dog’s water dish for the fifth time that hour it hit me, just like it hits every mom in my situation:

I could flowchart this. 

Oh, that’s not the natural reaction? Most people don’t find joy in flow charts? Is that why “Zen and the art of flowcharting” isn’t a thing, let alone a bestseller? Well then. Ahem.

What’s done is done and now here I sit with a flow chart on how my 10-month-old seems to decide what to do in any given moment I set him on the floor.

So now, I bestow onto you this: my 10-month-old’s guide to how to play. (Feel free to click for the full version.)

I will play with that

 

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Notes from nine months

swinging awayAnother quarter of the year gone already? I think three month intervals of babydom come as more of a shock mostly because they are associated with sizes of clothing (0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 12 months). And while the clothing sizing and age correlation has as much correlation with reality as a Donald Trump speech (why would it be so hard to label baby clothes sizes with lengths? You must measure these things to manufacture the clothes, baby clothes-makers! Label them with lengths like they do in Europe! But I digress per usual.), the nine month age signifies that you are rapidly approaching that landmark time of having survived your first year as a parent.

Recent updates in our house include, but are not limited to:

  • Sitting up from a lying position without assistance. Note: this has actually only happened once and it happened while my friend was in town for a few hours and while both my husband and I were looking away. It has not happened since.
  • More food. I can safely say that Connor prefers Brie to Camembert cheese, and there is positively no humanly way to say, “my baby prefers Brie to Camembert” without sounding like a total douchebag
  • Silence becoming the single most terrifying sound known to man as it typically indicates the baby has found something so profoundly dangerous it has captivated his attention for a very prolonged period of time. All my friends with older children postulate this “silence is terrifying” thing lasts until adulthood. Phenomenal.

And other than that, life has been going on. Living in a large city continues to be the best choice we could have made for ourselves and our family as demonstrated by the fact that most of our pictures are still unhung because we keep going out and having too much fun around Chicago because there is so much to do. It’s a quality problem to have.

In between naps, though, I have managed to jot down my thoughts on the ever-astounding 9 month mark. Enjoy!


Childproofing is easy

Please note all the toys behind this ungrateful child. But no. Ragged dog bone.

Please note all the toys behind this ungrateful child.

No, really! If you’re willing to take an iterative approach it’s easy to figure out what to do to make your home safer for baby.

First, set out some toys for your baby. Next, place your baby in front of the toys. Your baby will immediately turn away from the toys and head exactly toward the single most dangerous item/place in your house. The toys simply act as a divining rod to turn your child in the exact opposite direction of their location. You may then babyproof whatever it is your baby finds.

This approach works every time.


LIDS.

Literally every child's reaction to a box full of dang lids.

Literally every child’s reaction to a box full of dang lids.

I went to a mommy meetup recently. I had a lot of fun and saw a distant future of what it’s like to actually have a two-year-old running around and what kinds of toys children actually like. Spoiler alert: it’s the toy that the other child has.

However, when the host mom brought out a box full of jar lids (salsa jar lids, baby jar lids, olive jar lids, etc.) it was like she was the second coming of the damn toy messiah. Every child ages 6 months to 3 years flocked to this box of lids and played with them like they were the second coming of Christmas.

Lids, people.

Lids.

If you want to make a child’s day, hand them a box of lids and never look back. This will be especially infuriating fun when your child is surrounded by every toy imaginable you have painstakingly played with like a fool in the toy shops/Target/Buy Buy Baby. It is a perfect reminder (because you need so many) that you know nothing, Jon Snow.


Your child’s future résumé does not include baby milestones.

No, he didn't pull himself up. He will eventually. I think he's okay, though.

No, he didn’t pull himself up. He will eventually. I think he’s okay, though.

In order to preserve some level of credibility on this point I conducted a thorough interview (emailed quickly) with a good friend who works in HR. What I confirmed was simple: while there are many things that might go on your résumé/CV as an adult, the dates you achieved your baby milestones are never among them.

(It might be worth mentioning this is in a day and age where “artisanal cheese enthusiast”* and “food iPhonographer” are legitimate résumé excerpts that have been found on actual résumés.)

There seems to be a lot of pressure on parents about their children achieving milestones (i.e., sitting, pulling up, teeth, laughing, talking, walking, etc.) “early” as if what Princeton is looking for is a candidate who walked at 10.5 months instead of 1 year old. “Milly just sat by herself at 4.5 months, honey! Grab that application to Harvard, quick! She’s a shoo-in now!”

Milestone charts are helpful for your pediatrician to be able to tell you if there might be a problem. And that’s it. Babies are people. Small people, but people. People are all different. It can then be inferred that babies are all different. Your child might be “early” on some things and “later” on others. No matter what the case is, it’s not going on their résumé once it’s achieved.


I have responded to your text. In my head.

I’m sorry about that. Forever, I am sorry about that.

I needed to get that out there.


There is a foolproof way to get your child down for a nap

"Oh, you need to move the car for street sweeping, Mom? Cool."

“Oh, you need to move the car for street sweeping, Mom? Cool.”

I bet I heard a bunch of neck snaps to attention with that one! Are you ready? It’s a two-step process. Here we go:

  1. Schedule yourself to be somewhere at a very specific time and place.
  2. Watch your child effortlessly fall into a deep, perfect slumber fifteen minutes before you need to leave.

It. Never. Fails. 

Never. 


It just keeps getting better.

Fine, everyone with kids. It does go so quickly. Yeah yeah yeah, all of you moms and dads out there. It does keep getting more fun. You got me already, lady on the bus whose status of children I have no idea, it is so much fun.

And so, so, so worth it.


*Um, duh? Isn’t that the equivalent of saying, “sentient being who breathes”?

The single most expensive dog toy to ever be manufactured…

sophie girafe…is called Sophie la Giraffe.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s sold at reputable baby retailers such as Buy Buy Baby, Pottery Barn Kids, and Amazon. You might think that this adorable, chic “teether” that you are convinced you have to have as soon as you become pregnant is for your baby.

You would be wrong.

I am now convinced this teether is actually the world’s greatest marketing ploy of all time by a dog toy manufacturer to offload an overabundance of rubber squeaky giraffes to unsuspecting, hormonal mothers who will think that an adorable box with French on it and a cute story about a little factory in the French countryside making their own perfect rubber formula since the 1950s for children to teethe their perfect little French baby teeth upon will sell these little rubber giraffes en masse.

Whoever realized this potential market for an overproduction of giraffe dog toys is a genius.

Sophie is one of those registry items that appears on almost everyone’s registry magically, even if they don’t specifically remember registering for it. I think the fact that the toy is adorable helps the cause immensely. You are immediately brought back to imagining a simpler time with more adorable toys that your grandmother might have played with before walking uphill both ways in the snow to school. Perhaps teething on this adorable French giraffe will create a cultured, art-loving, bilingual child, you think to yourself. Images of your child with a chef’s hat cooking up gourmet 5-course meals at the age of 6 flash across your hormonal eyes. This is it, you think, this is the key to motherhood.

What they don’t tell you is that Sophie la Giraffe, in all her adorable retro-chic French countryside rubber, is the only toy my dog has ever wanted or will ever want in his entire existence.

Forget gourmet-cooking bilingual children, what’s actually in that special French countryside rubber is dog crack.

My general problem is that my fur baby (dog) and I have been together for over six and a half years. Almost every toy that has been brought into the house has been brought with the sole purpose of furthering his enjoyment and happiness in life, and whether that happiness is achieved by tearing said toy to bits within five minutes or by hoarding it for a year as his own personal security toy is completely up to him. How am I supposed to explain to him that all of a sudden these toys that look almost identical to every other toy he has ever been given are suddenly “off limits” because of a (as of yet) nonexistent being that is coming to live with us in a few months? You can’t, that’s how. If I can’t understand it, my dog shouldn’t be expected to, either.

sophie la girafe and Brinks

“Oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please oh pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease”

I have been fairly successful in hiding the toys that are for Wee Connor away from the dog, and, generally, he’s been uninterested in them. Except for Sophie. Sophie makes me realize what a Border Collie he actually is with his obsessive-compulsive memory and attention span that is longer than 90% of adults’. There is something about her that makes him go insane, and were it not for a $23 price tag, I would probably just give her to him. At the moment, my attitude is that $23 is too much money to just go out and buy another Sophie, but seeing as that appears to be the inevitable outcome, I have decided that Sophie la Giraffe is officially the single most expensive dog toy to ever be created.

Bravo, Sophie marketeers, with your French countryside rubber story and your ability to conjure up images of well-behaved French gourmet chef children. Bravo. Je vous salue (I salute you)!