Well, the grandbaby is officially 1 now. We still haven’t decided what name she is going to call me, but she hit the one-year mark at the end of last month and, coincidentally, hit the ground running at a crawl, meaning she is the fastest crawler I have ever seen in my life.
Greased lightning on hands and knees. Faster than the stealthy sloth at the Cleveland Zoo who moved at a snail’s pace during a live shot I did there for a newscast a few years ago.
As my interviewee and I walked away from his little jungle gym and on to the next animal exhibit they’d set up for us, that “sloth” quickly descended the high bars and made a very hasty beeline for my one and only designer purse, which was sitting on the ground off in the distance.
Thankfully, the segment ended just as the sloth realized he was getting unwanted attention by going way faster than their average 6 centimeters per second. As I said then and will repeat now, he was a lying, faker sloth who came within inches of what my intern, Katie, informed me was a Louis Vuitton Epi Leather. I knew this because the second we went off the air, she started screaming “Not the Epi leather! Noooooooooooo!!! Not the Epi leather.” The sloth was surprised it got busted, and I was surprised that a 21-year-old intern knew more about my purse than I did.
Anyway, that’s how fast my granddaughter is crawling these days, but she is way cuter, her nails are much shorter and she’s far more destructive.
One day when I was babysitting, she crawled over to the basket that holds all the dog toys. Before I knew it she had emptied it out and was chewing on one of the toys. I screamed and thankfully, she pulled it from her mouth. Which toy? I will never tell. That is a secret I’ll take to the grave.
As I was picking up all the dog toys and putting them in the basket, which I was going to hide in the garage, she speed-crawled into the kitchen. She went directly for the dogs’ big water dish. Somehow she managed to pull it over to where she was sitting and then proceeded to empty it out onto her lap and the very red rug, which I found out is not colorfast.
I quickly changed her clothes and tried to sop up as much water as I could before the wood floor looked like a battle scene from "Braveheart."
I then looked for something to put under the rug to get it off the floor and give it a chance to dry out. Racing against three known combatants — time, bleeding red dye and a baby — I was shoving swimming noodles under the rug as the Crawler Queen raced over to the sliding doors.
I knew there was nothing there she could get into and let out a sigh of relief, which was quickly replaced with a gasp when I looked up and saw her holding my shoe. She was licking the bottom of it!
Without hesitation, I swept her up, put her in her car seat and we were off to Walmart to find some sort of thing I could use to contain her.
One expensive high chair, one cheap-looking walker that looked like it had all the plastic that China had ever made, and car seats galore. That’s all I found. "Don’t they make play pens anymore?" I wondered out loud.
Apparently, they sort of do. They are smaller than the ones back in the day and are called Pack n Plays. I’m embarrassed to say that I even have one. I just don’t know how to unpack it, and who’s got time when Turbo Baby is around? When she is gone, I’m too exhausted to think about anything other than a glass of wine.
So getting her out of the house and into a stroller, I’ve decided, is my best line of defense. We go for long walks and just this week we ventured beyond the neighborhood.
I took her with me to get my haircut, and she was a champ. She sat in that umbrella stroller and performed on cue. I’m teaching her the art of comedy, and her first trick was learning what a “knee slapper” is. If you laugh and say something is funny, she will smile her 3½-tooth smile and slap her knee.
She entertained every stylist and client at Innovations for almost an hour, but not by continuously slapping her knee. She cooed and talked and made hand gestures like she was organizing a rally.
That went so well, I took her across the street to a resale shop, where we found bargains galore and not one but two devices for keeping her stationary and safe.
Riding a successful grandmother high, I decided to try one more test. I would take her to lunch at a little cafe down the street.
She is now eating little pieces of “real food," so how hard could it be by myself? The actual meal was nothing, but getting into the restaurant is something I will never forget. And neither will anyone who was eating there that day and saw the spectacle.
As I lifted the baby and the stroller up the couple of steps and tried to open the door, a sweet man who witnessed my struggle left his table and came to open the door for us. What he and everyone else also witnessed was my seemingly unexplained difficulty once we made it over the threshold.
As I repeatedly tried to set the stroller down, it kept pulling me down with it. After the wrestling match I’d just had getting up the steps, it shouldn’t be hard to just set the baby down, right? Was I losing my mind?
It was then that I realized the curved handle of the umbrella stroller had gotten caught in my bra strap, and every time I tried setting it down it was pulling my shirt and my bra strap out with it. Talk about making a grand entrance.
Nope. I still don’t know what the baby is going to call me, but right now just call me tired and embarrassed. And if you know how to unpack a Pack n Play, you can call me, too.
Contact Robin Swoboda at Robinswoboda@outlook.com.