Early last evening I returned from doing some freelance work only to find that the babysitter had just given Leta a sippy cup full of orange juice. I had never seen my kid devour something so viciously, not even the chocolate chip Teddy Grahams Jon fed her for breakfast one morning last week, and those she shoved into her mouth ten at a time. My first thought was, “My child doth drinketh from the sippy cupth? What magic hath thou executed to rendereth such miracle?”
That wonderment was readily squashed, however, when the next thought hit me: S to the U to the G-A-R. I’m not one of those parents who denies her kid a cookie because it might potentially kill the rainforests. We don’t eat anything organic unless it’s on sale, but I assure you that we recycle all of our empty Pop Tart boxes. I don’t mind feeding Leta sugar in modest amounts at the appropriate time of day, but a half hour before her bedtime? In its purest, undiluted, Florida-squeezed form? I immediately surveyed the house and secured all objects below knee level behind locked doors and then told the babysitter to leave now while all her limbs remained intact. I might not be so lucky.
For the next two hours that kid’s head spun like the blades of a blender set to speed: PULVERIZE THE SHIT OUT OF IT. She crawled in and out of all the rooms in the house acting like she was trying to find the mind she had misplaced, and every time she turned a corner she’d giggle maniacally like, “It’s not in there!” Several times she had to stop and catch her breath because she was laughing so hard. If she had been capable of adult thought it would have gone like this, “Dude, it was here a second ago. Where’d it go? And, like, why am I all of a sudden craving Cheetos?”
When we finally wrangled her into the bath she acted as if we had just dipped her into liquid Christmas. All this water? FOR HER? Do you have any idea the possibilities? We could barely distinguish the giddy screams from the thunderous sound of water splashing the walls and floor and innocent, dumbfounded animal sitting nearby wondering why we never told him that she can go to eleven. She’s only supposed to go to ten. He can live with level ten, but eleven? THAT WAS NOT THE AGREEMENT.
Jon tried to read her stories but he couldn’t keep up with the pace of her page-turning, getting in only one word or letter per page. He finally gave up and put her to bed, and we both braced for the systematic destruction of her crib. I imagined she might shake it into submission or slice it in half with the rotation of her head. Instead, she crashed face-first, her right cheek cushioning the fall, with the force of an American-made SUV slamming into a barricade during a test of the durability of its front bumper. A gigantic thud echoed in the living room from the monitor out onto the porch.
Jon and I just sat there afterward asking each other, “Did that just happen? Was our baby high? Do you think she suffered any permanent damage? Could we have asked for a more entertaining Thursday night? Can we try it again tomorrow?”