Keeping my ten-month-old son occupied is about as easy as keeping Pamela Anderson celibate.
If you saw my house, you wouldn’t think this would be much of a problem; the boy has more stacking cups, board books, plastic rings, balls, and rattles than Paris Hilton has brain cells. The truth is, though, that his toys do nothing except collect dust. Bruiser’s rule of thumb seems to be that if it looks like it was made for the one-and-under set, it must be scorned.
He prefers to play instead with items that generally are banned from the baby population, from glass-topped tables to electronics equipment to wall sockets. Of course at first, I resisted his attempts to teethe on the telephone receiver or the soles of Hubs’s sneakers. Because, hello! Dangerous! And gross! But I have to tell you, a woman can only take so much. I’m not very fond of the prolonged loud, ugly crying that follows my 1,817th attempt to trade in a chewed and spit-covered telephone book, for a plastic baby-safe panda bear. I’m totally over the ear-splitting screams that have occurred all eleventh-hundred times that I’ve wrestled the television remote from his grubby little hands. In order to retain my sanity, I’ve had to relax my standards a little bit … well, okay, a lot … and redefine what ‘toy’ means to me.
That’s why yesterday, you would have found Bruiser knee-deep in the Sunday paper. For a good thirty minutes, he crumpled, tore, gummed, and thrashed his way through hundreds of pages of newsprint to his heart’s content. Once he was done with that, I let have him the run of the kitchen Tupperware cabinet. Afterward, I plied him with water bottles, empty sippy cups, plastic packing envelopes, chunky bracelets, lotion samples, anything that would keep him busy for another please-god-ten minutes.
The way I see it, I’m not being a pushover. I’m merely protecting my mental health, not to mention my wallet. If I can keep Bruiser happy by letting him teethe on a tube of toothpaste, he’s less likely to short out the power cord to my Macbook (that was last week’s escapade) and cost me another hundred bones.
I laugh sometimes, imagining the horror I would have felt had you shown me a thirty-second video clip of Bruiser playing with his “toys” back when Punky was a baby. “Who knows where that old flip flop has been?!” I would have cried. “It must be simply laden with germs! That is disgusting! Who is his mother?!”
All I know is that after ten months of floor-licking, sole-chewing, dirt-snorting, trash-gumming finger-sucking action, Bruiser has yet to get sick. Who knows? Maybe all this germ mongering is actually good for them.
Photo Courtesy of Suburban Turmoil