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Mommy's Little Hoover

Proving once again that no two siblings
are alike, Cora is going through a phase Maddie simply never
experienced – the Human Carpet Cleaner.

I don’t know what it is with this child, but I am convinced
that at least part of the reason Cora is crawling so early is that
she sees an attractive paint chip across the floor and simply must
have it in her mouth. ANYTHING on the floor is fair game, provided
it is 1) dangerous, and 2) not generally considered food to humans.
Meaning, that triple-A battery is fair game, but she’ll pass
right over a green bean.

This was bad enough in New York, when I
had to contend with a house that was never cleaned because I simply
didn’t have time, but having her voracious appetite for
inedibles unleashed on this new house is going to put me in an
early grave. There’s hardly a square inch of floor that
doesn’t have shredded newspaper filling, packing peanuts,
bits of strapping tape, or plain old
leaves-that-the-movers-tracked-in dirt on it (listen, I
haven’t found my vacuum yet). And since Cora’s been
sick she’s been hyper-needy and demanding I hold her
constantly, so I’m always searching the floor for a safe
place to plop her for five minutes while I get Maddie out of her
highchair or open a tub of applesauce or any of the other five
million tiny things that require two hands.

This insatiable need to cram everything forbidden in her mouth
makes for an excruciatingly slow rate of accomplishment in my day;
propping her against a book box while I try to unpack, I’ll
barely get the box cutter in my hand before having to bend over and
fish something out of her mouth. Open the box, peel back the lid,
stop to snatch a leaf out of her fist, and so on.

I thought at first that this must be a sign she’s ready for
finger foods: Cora will disdain the jar stuff while constantly
grabbing for the spoon or doing an endless sweep with her arms over
her tray for any stray ANYTHING I might have left there. Lord help
me if a stray blob of baby food falls on the tray – that
kid’s fists are in it faster than a duck on a junebug. So I
put a Cheerio on her tray yesterday, certain she’d cram it in
her mouth and smile in delight as I allowed her to keep it.

But no – she picked it up, smashed it, and dropped it
haughtily over the edge. Sigh.

Just this morning I sat down with the girls for breakfast and was
fastening Maddie’s bib on when I heard a familiar sound
– a cat with a hairball. And everyone with a cat, you know
that hacking sound I mean. The only problem was that the
cat’s still shut up in our room.

Apprehensively, I turned towards my baby, already strapped in to
her high chair and pounding imperiously on her tray. Sure enough,
the hacking was coming from her. Suddenly, and honest-to-God
hairball came out of her mouth and flew on to my breakfast bowl.
“A-ga!” Cora crowed happily.

Then went back to looking for something to shove in her mouth.

Maddie never went through this phase: she did the requisite tasting
most babies seem to, but if she found a penny on the floor she
didn't see the need to try to swallow it, and by and large she's
still rather uninterested in putting inappropriate things in her

Cora, on the other hand, may become the human bank. Want a safe
place to put your money (short term only, I'm afraid)? Leave it in
my daughter's path.

Just make sure you let her keep the change.


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