November 04, 2002

Things I Learned at Day Care

Or... A (Grand)Parenting Refresher Course

At times over the weekend, it was just Dumpa Dumpy (me) and Uncle Nate minding the 21-month-old Abby. It has been a while since I was in charge of a toddler (about 21 years, I reckon) and I am now remembering what it is like to live in that Brave New World.

Wet diapers are self-monitoring and will droop below the knees when full, so avoid the temptation to use the finger dipstick method. And, contrary to my expectations, Abby was not dressed in a 12-hour diaper when her mother left for an overnight trip yesterday. I thought surely, by now, those had been invented. Whadda I know?

Wearing a wet diaper is the adult equivalent of waddling around for hours straddling a wet Wall Street Journal. Hence, the diaperless state is much preferred to the diapered, and once disengaged from the soggy paper product, the semi-naked baby runs much faster through the house and is capable of finding hiding places the diapered are not capable of.

The tiny round-headed farmer from the Fisher-Price Farm Set, although smoother than the tiny cow, still after thirty years in the attic is capable of inflicting a serious stone bruise on the bare heel. And: one piece will always be missing when putting this toy away. Go look under the cushions on the sofa first.

Sitting the baby this weekend, I remembered a rather cruel experiment from freshman psychology: baby monkeys were placed in cages with two surrogate monkey mothers (wire frames and stylized heads with crude monkey faces). One monkey mother was just the bare wire frame and face, but contained a bottle of milk; the other lacked the milk but was covered with a soft fabric. The baby monkeys stayed at the bottle mother just long enough to feed, then immediately rushed to and clung to the cloth-covered monkey mother, showing "the primacy of nurture to sustenance". This recollection gave me new appreciation for the phrase "warm fuzzies" as I watched Abby become frantic when separated for even minutes from her "B", a small teddy-bear head attached to two square feet of blanket. Do we outgrow these needs for soft contact, for security? What form do the objects of these needs for comfort take as adults, I wonder?

Ignorant of the principles of physics, a large dog and a small child will always attempt to occupy the same place at the same time.

If the sipee-cup contains milk, the child will want juice, and conversely.

Minding the toddler is a 25-7 proposition. What is the negative of 'spare time'?

Toddler gives off a sticky emanation that eventually covers all munchkin-accessible surfaces. Theory holds that this is a method of insuring that baby does not miss one square inch in her exploration. If it is not sticky, she has not yet investigated that particular square of floor, desk, wall or cabinet. Buster has a similar mechanism having to do with the uniform propagation of dog hair. Isn't nature wonderful?

Molehills are mountains to a toddler whose step length is a mere 4 inches and balance while standing and walking still requires a wide-based gait (this waddling manner of walking is aided considerably by the presence of the bulky diaper twixt the thighs. You try walking normally with that Wall Street Journal down there). Expect a face-plant approximately every 30 feet on soft and irregular pasture, more often if Buster is with us. Also, when stopping at the edge of the water to throw rocks in the creek, one trip will go two steps beyond the edge of the water. It's just a matter of time.

The harder you work to tire them out so that you can get a nap, the less energy you will have left to deal with the energizing effects your efforts have on them.

Posted by fred1st at November 4, 2002 05:18 AM

You forgot the important part of the diaper SOME point, that baby's gonna need to go...and chances are it'll happen in a place YOU can't get to or on something that can't be cleaned.

Posted by: Da Goddess at November 5, 2002 01:14 AM

Stepping on Fisher-Price toys? Hey bud, wait 'til she graduates to Legos. You don't know the meaning of pain until you've stepped on a Lego in a dark room.

Posted by: Curt at November 5, 2002 10:34 AM

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