Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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The Unsweetened O-Shaped Cereal Phase

So many things have been coming back to me as Maddie gets older, aspects of parenthood and babyhood that I believed I'd never forget the first two times around.  This, despite the fact that I think I keep pretty ridiculous records of our activities and habits and the silly things they say, in hopes the kids will get a kick out of them one day - scrapbooks, pregnancy journals, baby books, Project Life, and maybe even this blog.  Still, with the passage of so many years since I last held a tiny baby, I find there are things that slipped through the cracks of my memory (cracks which are quickly becoming giant fissures), things that seemed far too insignificant at the time to even bother to jot a few words about in a baby book.

I was reminded of this again recently when we assembled the high chair.  Wait,  I hear you thinking.  Isn't Maddie 8 months old?  And haven't you had that high chair since your work buddies gave it to you, BEFORE MADDIE WAS EVEN BORN?  Shouldn't she have been using that thing for quite a while now?   To which I say, "Mind your own business."  We're very cleverly attempting to stunt her development by engaging in Non-American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Approved Activities, like feeding her while she sits on our laps.  Our ploy, however, isn't working.  For example, despite the fact that we hold her so much that she never learned to crawl, she's decided, "The heck with it," and is skipping straight ahead to pulling herself up and walking.

I'm kidding, of course, about deliberately stunting her development.  Actually we're just lazy.  Plus we already have to play leapfrog in our living room/kitchen to get around all the other baby gear, so we kind of had to wait until she outgrew something before we could add a new hurdle.  When we had practiced pole vaulting enough to feel comfortable that we could get from the couch to the fridge without cracking our skulls by tripping on the bouncy seat (which we call The Toe Stubber, if that gives you any indication of how often we trip on it), we knew it was time to assemble the high chair.  However, there were more delays to come, delays which (for once) weren't our fault.

Maddie watched the assembly begin with eager anticipation, as if she knew the chair was for her and promised great culinary excitement and independence.  Actually she looks at everything that way, but I like to pretend she knew what was up with the chair.  This lasted until a stream of obscenities escaped from Gerry's mouth as he perched in the center of a sea of plastic chair parts, which was my initial indication that a part was missing.  You wouldn't think that a skinny, 10" metal rod would be so important, but when it's the only thing that will keep the Seat Back attached to the Seat Bottom and the Crotch Retainer (my favorite high chair part name) it turns out you can't really assemble the chair without it.  So Gerry put the pieces back in the box, which fit back in the original packaging about as well as a full-grown octopus fits in a paper sack, and the next day I called the company.  As promised, they shipped the part straight to me within 3-5 Business Years, and as soon as it arrived I commissioned Marma to assemble it for me, since I was still in Stomach Flu Recovery (the period of time when you no longer have the flu, but you feel like your muscles have all been secretly replaced with Play Doh because you haven't eaten anything for two days).  Maddie.  was.  thrilled.  I was thrilled, too, because I only got hit in the head with an unwieldy high chair leg once during the process (as far as I remember).

I was  also thrilled to see her eat Cheerios in her high chair, which is adorable.  Oops, I don't mean Cheerios, I mean Unsweetened O-Shaped Cereal, which is what all the parenting resources call this popular baby snack, but c'mon - we all know they mean Cheerios.  If you go to the grocery store and ask where you can find the unsweetened o-shaped cereal, first they'll look at you like you're insane, then they'll ask their manager, and then they'll say, "Um, do you mean Cheerios?"

Which brings me (finally)  to my point, which is that we're already in the Cheerio Phase.  It's not like I forgot about the Cheerio Phase altogether - how could I forget Jake always filling both fists to Maximum Capacity and carrying all those Cheerios around until he needed his hands for a toy, at which time he'd just smash one whole fistful in his mouth?  Or Zoe thoughtfully picking Cheerios slowly and individually out of the Cheerio dispenser that I thought was so clever, until she learned how to twist it open and decided they were more fun to sprinkle on the floor?

Baby Jake at one year old. I'd already taught him to mow.
J & Z at 5 and 2 1/2 - Table Manners 101.

But I had forgotten some aspects of it.  The crunch of discarded Cheerios underfoot, and the resulting pervasive Cheerio particles created on impact.  How the Cheerio Powder is approximately 52 times harder to clean up than drywall dust.  Finding miscellaneous Cheerios in your pocket.  The unavoidable Cheerio Face.

Of course there are parts of the experience unique to Mads.  So far, she likes to chase each Cheerio around the tray with her index finger until the saliva on her hands glues it in place.

Then she carefully ushers it to her mouth, almost sneaking it in, afraid to disrupt whatever natural balance is allowing this deliciousness to approach her taste buds.

Then she makes a face like I've just fed her a raw lemon, which I have yet to capture on film.  This is one of the Miracles of Maddie - to enjoy her and all her specialness, but also to have another chance to remember all the little stuff that I didn't realize wasn't so little years ago.  Back then, I never would have guessed that I would tear up and get all sentimental just from unzipping a tiny set of footie pajamas to change a diaper, only to discover a single Cheerio nestled way down in the toe.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!


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