Hurricane Charlie

2.4.08: Our pint-sized demolition guy


The pitter patter of little feet. It's something I imagined wistfully before we had kids, while I sat peacefully, dreamily rubbing my pregnant belly. It's what we heard when our dainty, delicate little flower of a girl took her first careful steps. And now that Charlie's walking, I am once again hearing pitter patters. Only this time, it's the pitter patter of my palpitating heart as I race from one heart-stopping near-miss to the next.

Charlie is walking. And the rest of us are suddenly living with Godzilla in our midst—stomping his way through town, knocking down entire city blocks with a sweep of his tail, leaving a path of destruction in his wake. My heart is simultaneously jumping out of my chest and melting inside it, because Charlie is tearing our house apart in his signature sweet, sunny way. It's like a funny little fuzzy-haired baby chick has come to trash our house. If we gave Charlie a club and a little leopard-skinned loincloth, we could officially change his name to Bamm-Bamm.

A Day in the Life With Charlie

This morning, Charlie started our day by toddling over to the bedside table and reaching for a glass of water. I was sticking one leg into my jeans, hobble-jumping over to him warning: "Charlie, No!" too late, as he dumped the full glass onto our bed.

I closed the two of us into the bathroom so I could keep him within arm's reach while I brushed my teeth and hair. But when I bent down to rinse the toothpaste out of my mouth, Charlie somehow managed to plunk my hairbrush into the toilet and unravel an entire roll of toilet paper in the space of three seconds.

Downstairs for breakfast, I sit Charlie in his highchair and give him a chunk of banana and a handful of Cheerios to keep him occupied while I get out sippy cups and juice and bowls and spoons. Charlie mashes the banana into his hair, then makes the "more" sign with his squishy hands, rubbing more mush into his chest as he politely signs "please." I give him a bowl of oatmeal and a spoon and let him feed himself while I make Julia's breakfast. Charlie lifts the bowl into the air asking "Mama! Boowl? Mama! Boowl?", then dumps it out, watching the oatmeal plop down onto his tray.

"No, Charlie!" I scold.

He laughs, then puts the bowl on his head, pointing to it and asking: "Haaatttt? Haaatttt?"

I try not to laugh. Charlie chucks the bowl across the room, and I say "Charlie, No!" a little more sternly this time. He looks at me and says: "Mama, NO! Mama, NO!", wagging his finger at me. He throws his spoon to the floor. "Mama, NO!", mimicking me. Mocking me. He grabs a fistful of oatmeal and flings it. "Mama, NO!" He hurtles his sippy cup of milk through the air, and seems surprised when it bounces loudly on the floor. "Uh Oh!" he says in staccatos, with his lips in a giant O, craning his head over the side of his highchair to see where it landed. Then, he shrieks "Mama, Dooooown! Mama, Dooooown!" until I take him out of the highchair for fear that the windows—or my eardrums—might actually shatter.

Charlie waddles around the kitchen, surveying his realm. His Buddah-belly is thrust out for balance, like he's in his third trimester. He holds his chest out, proud, smiling. Then, he opens the cabinet of Tupperware and flings it all to the ground. He finds a pair of shoes by the back door and licks the soles. "Charlie! No! Dirty!" I moan, taking them away. Charlie waddles into the dining room and rearranges the chairs, toppling one over and pushing the rest into the walls. He yanks a set of curtains and a tension rod off a window. Then, he waddles down the hallway, leaving a trail behind him: Cheerios which have dislodged themselves from the folds in his clothes, bits of a piece of Kleenex that he found and shredded, a train, a book, a wiffle ball, a slipper.

And then, silence. I run into the other room to find him dipping his fingers into Julia's fingerpaints, then licking them off. "Charlie, No!" I say, panicked, scanning the package for information about ingestion. He looks up and happily offers me a lick: "Num Num? Num Num?"

I carry him back into the kitchen with me and set him down in front of the toy kitchen, putting some wooden food down in front of him. He side-steps over to the fridge and tries to open the bottom freezer door. When he can't, he swipes all the magnetic animals and letters down to the floor in frustration.

While I'm unloading the dishwasher, he unloads the garbage can.

"No, Charlie! Yucky!" I turn and scold. I figure: as long as I'm cleaning up the garbage, I might as well take out the trash. I take Charlie upstairs with me to grab the bag from the diaper bin. I now feel compelled to stick my nose into the overflowing bag, choking on the fumes while I scan for Julia's missing shoe, or my black sweater, or whatever new treasure Charlie has managed to slip into the bin. As I'm coming up for air, I see that Charlie has lifted the top off of the humidifier in his room and tossed in two diapers, which are now a soaking, soggy mess.

Don't Fence Me In

"That's it! I've had it!" I announce out loud. I scoop a confused Charlie up and march down to the playroom, which is completely childproofed and stocked with baskets of toys. I put Charlie down with some blocks and barricade the doorway with the ottoman from the couch. Then, I stand on the other side and fume. Charlie stands and holds his balled-up fists in the air like an angry old Italian lady, screaming his indignant, red-faced gibberish at me. Then, his face softens and contorts in pain, as he throws his head back and raises his arms up in the air, pleading: "Mummy! Mummy!"

My heart melts. I sigh, step over the ottoman, and flop down on the floor next to him. He smiles with his giant wet eyes, then leans in for a gentle yet sloppy open-mouthed kiss, crawling up into my lap and resting his head against my chest. I hug my sweet, sunny boy, burying my nose into his white-blonde hair, which is gelled down with the now-crusty dried bananas. I think about all the things I still need to do around the house while I try to remind myself for the gazillionth time:

Someday, I will have a clean house again. But my baby boy will be gone.

Join's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she chronicles life with a new baby.

Read the next entry: 2.11.08: Use Your Words