Mommy Chronicles

A funny look at motherhood and the mayhem it causes.

January 07, 2002

Lucy the Reckless

I think Lucy has a death wish. I’ve made this observation based on her new hobby, which involves sitting and standing in dangerous places.

Here’s a common scenario: The arthritic and kindly dog is lounging on the floor, so Lucy decides the thing to do is stand on the dog’s hips. This makes the arthritic dog sigh pathetically and scrabble to her feet, knocking Lucy to the floor.

Lucy also really enjoys standing on the chair at my little desk. This is an antique folding wooden chair, one my Dad found when he moved to his first house in 1966. It was already an antique at that time, an orphan left to decay inside the termite-infested shack where he and my mom first lived.

The shack was built in 1908, so I am assuming the chair was born around that time. Like other things born in 1908, the chair is no longer sturdy on its legs. I have it because it’s old and weird looking, and I like old and weird-looking things. Except for Joan Rivers.

But back to Lucy. Lucy likes to stand on this chair, which bobs and creaks like a dinghy in stormy waters. This is fun for her, and clearly worth the effort she makes to get into the chair — an effort which involves folding herself over the seat, arching her back, tucking her legs underneath her stomach, then finally making her way to her feet while the entire chair buckles and shudders beneath her.

It is not fun for me. Over and over ahead in the filmstrip of my mind, I see the chair tip, fold and devour Lucy with its ancient and splintery jaws. She fell off of it once, and for several days afterward had a quarter-sized bruise on her forehead. This bruise corresponds directly with the portion of the brain that cues children to go to sleep at night, which, I think, is why Lucy has lately been waking up at 10:30, ready for hide-and-go-seek.

“HIDE!” she says, lifting her blanket and inviting me inside.

“SHHH!” she says, sticking her index finger in front of her lips, and then, because of her great enthusiasm, up her nose. “SHHH.”

After this, because she likes to hide with the dog, she calls out “MEAT! MEAT!” (Lucy cannot yet say Misty.) And then the dog comes and spooks the cats, who start fighting, and no one gets any sleep.

All of this because Lucy likes to take her life into her own hands and stand on wobbly chairs.

And that’s not all. She also likes to stand on the dining room table, sometimes during meals. To do this, she flops herself over the chair, pulls herself up, then flops on the table and pulls once more. This morning she got on the table and grabbed the spoon out of my very hand and started eating my cereal.

Now, I know I should be able to figure out a way I can keep Lucy off the dining room table, and I should also be able to figure out a way I can keep my own spoon in my hand. She’s only seventeen months old, after all. I’m almost certainly stronger and smarter. It does not bode well for when she is seventeen years old, and is my physical and intellectual superior.

But I can’t do it, even now. Even when I take my spoon back and put her on the floor, she gets up on the table again and does a little dance, a dance that looks strangely smug and supercilious. No matter how many times I remove her from the table, she just gets up again until I give up and put her in the family room.

Now, I suppose I could put all the chairs into the basement. But I see chairs in all the other houses and apartments I go to. Somehow, people are managing to have both children and chairs without catastrophic results.

And, even if I did put all the dining room and desk chairs in the basement, Lucy still likes sitting on the arms of the family room furniture. This might be the worst habit of all. The chairs are squishy and rounded, and she likes to balance on them, holding her arms out and feet up while she leans back, challenging the gaping maw of gravity to swallow her whole. She thinks it’s hilarious, the hideous little beast.

Just yesterday, as she was doing it, I put on my meanest face and said in my very sternest voice, “LUCY JANE BERLIANT, get DOWN from there. It’s DANGEROUS. You could FALL and split your head like a MELON.”

All Lucy did was look at me, wave her hand by wiggling one finger at a time, and giggle. Where did she learn that smarty pants little wave? I don’t wave like that. Adam doesn’t wave like that. How did she know that’s the wave you use when you’re flagrantly disobeying an authority figure?

I have no idea. I do know one thing, however. Her death-wish hobby is giving me and Adam heart attacks. If she keeps this up, I’m gonna kill her.


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