Early on in my parenting career I was surprised to find that many people seemed impressed by large babies. “What a nice big boy!” other parents sometimes said; one mother would laugh about her peanut-sized babies. I think it’s partly those charts that the doctors keep insisting on showing me at every well-baby check-up — “She’s in the 90th percentile for height,” they tell me, “and the 75th for weight, and her head circumference is…” Somehow those charts trigger a competitive instinct in parents, already gearing up for being proud of future SAT scores.
Even with Nathan I didn’t care much about those numbers, but with my third baby I find them absolutely irrelevant. Sure, keep track so that if her weight drops suddenly we can have a clue that something might be wrong, but as long as she’s somewhere within the range of normal, I don’t care how she compares to other babies.
Well, that isn’t entirely true. With this much parenting experience under my belt, I do sometimes wish I had smaller babies.
Smaller babies are easier to carry around, for one thing, and I need only compare the strength of my left and right arms to prove that I spend a lot of time carrying a baby around. Smaller babies don’t outgrow their carseats long before they’re supposed to move on to the next step up. And, given the uncanny ability of any baby to maneuver, while asleep, to a sideways position on the bed, I have to imagine that smaller babies would have a harder time performing the trick that I like to think of as The Wedge (head against one parent, feet against the other, and push!).
And a smaller baby would not, at barely over a year old, already be able to grab things off the kitchen counter.
Now, a certain amount of chaos is inevitable in a baby-containing household, and of course we don’t expect things to stay where we put them, and we know to always check our shoes before putting them on (Mica loves the Putting Things In game right now). But what keeps the system working is that, while the baby is still too young to exercise appropriate “please don’t touch that” self-control, they should be short enough that most horizontal surfaces in the household are out of reach.
Her absolute favorite horizontal surfaces are the computer tables, where there are keyboards to pound on, and doing so sometimes Makes Things Happen. Also there’s the convenience of wireless mice, which means that any unattended mouse can be filched right off and carried around the house, to be set down in a random location once interest fades. A random location like the living room couch, for example. Or under her high chair, where she was distracted by the remains of lunch (also known in Mica-world as a “buffet”). Or in a closed bathroom drawer. Did I mention she likes the Putting Things In game right now?
I know that in future her height will serve her well — I really enjoy being tall, outside of occasional situations like airplanes. But couldn’t she start putting on those inches later? Like, maybe when she’s five?