Suburban Snapshots

Darwin is a Jerk

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

In most situations, I'm a pretty laid back mom. I think a lot of what we let Anna get away with has shaved years off of my in-laws' lives. She eats popsicles on the couch, stands precariously on her desk to tune the iPod, she does gymnastics tricks on the bathroom sink, has spattered paint in places far from any scrap of paper or canvas. I let her spend the day naked because it's easier than negotiating her back into her undies each time she pees. Sometimes she splashes in her backyard pool au naturale. She loves setting up her beanbag chair at the edge of the couch or coffee table and Fall-Guying onto it over and over. She stands on the arm of our leather chair to inventory the kitchen island and swipe all the pens. Sometimes, if she says please, I let her sip my coffee.

Under Steve's tutelage, she's become a playground daredevil, hurling herself down giant plastic twisting slides well before she could walk, demanding higher and faster on swings. He lets her walk untethered through Home Depot, I let her stand in the back of the Target shopping carts.

The little bruises on her shins tell me that she's having a childhood. I'll always comfort her when she's hurt, but I love that she's learned to be kind of tough, and that I've learned to be a braver mom — mostly.

I can't get past my fear of choking. It's kind of a problem. I want to be nonchalant like Steve, who hands her a hot dog on a bun and calls it dinner. I want to not lean across the table, casually dismantling it into its atomic particles, hoping he's not looking. I'd like to, like my sister, hand her food when she's whining in the car seat just to have the peace and quiet of chewing, but I rarely do (and usually only Goldfish or Cheerios, because Cheerios have a hole in the middle so theoretically air could still pass through a lodged one, RIGHT?!)

I eyeball her meals, looking for any rogue, tracheaesophagus-sized pieces. I break into cold sweats if we're having anything with chopped meat for dinner and might try to slip her the vegetarian option instead. Peas? Yogurt? Can a person live exclusively on elbow macaroni (air hole!) into adulthood?

Right now she has a cold with a thick, phlegmy cough. Her doctor told me to pick up some suppressant and keep an eye on her. OK doc, I'll do my best to keep an eye on her, because I don't leap off the couch each time she coughs during the night to listen to her hard swallowing and wait anxiously for a normal breathing pattern to resume. Also, can I borrow that stethoscope? (I love her doctor, but I nearly launched a big, snorting guffaw at the man's face when he suggested using gumballs as potty training booty. ZOMGHAHAHALOLZ have you met me, doc?)

I remember hearing once on a PBS Nature show that monkeys have some kind of throat flap that prevents them from choking on food. Seems like one of those really useful evolutionary things that ought to have been passed our way, no? Instead we get flapless, vulnerable throats and the ability to become totally irrational.

Thanks a lot, Darwin.

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