Thoughts on Life

Cora Rose has learned the hard way that it is a dog-eat-dog world out there. Life has been hard. It’s knocked her about. She has had to learn to fend for herself from an early age. There is an expression “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, but Cora Rose knows better. A squeaky wheel? Squeaking never got anyone anywhere in this world. If you want to be heard, if you want to be listened to, you have to shout.


ANNIE AKA “Big Sister”: Unreliable. Most fun, but least trustworthy of anyone in the family. Always keeps you guessing. Sometimes sunshine and smiles – but never, ever let your guard down around her. An offered toy – when you go to grab it, it might be yanked away from you. A friendly hug might turn into a suffocating squeeze that pulls you off balance, so you fall hard. Cora has had a few falls in her day. And worst of all, if the Big Sister finds that Cora is holding a toy – well, that is a recipe for a showdown. It doesn’t matter whether or not Big Sister wants to play with the toy. If Cora has a toy, that’s an acknowledged provocation.

She seems so sweet… but wait… what’s that around Cora’s neck?

Annie is a tough adversary. She has had many years longer to work on her lightning reflexes. Cora is a quick draw but no matter how hard she trains she can’t equal her sister – yet. Annie swoops in and the toy is wrenched away so fast it’s almost impossible to witness what happened. When Cora was younger – not the hardened youth she is now – when she was wide-eyed, gullible – she would be stunned when this happened. It would happen so fast she didn’t even know where her toys went. She would feel perplexed rather than angry. But now she knows. When her sister swoops in, Cora Rose is ready. She fixes Big Sister with a stare that would quench the spirit of a weaker mortal. And then she holds onto that toy with all the strength in her little hands. If she is standing up, she will let go of her support and fall over, but that is a small price to pay to defend her possessions.

Usually the Big Sister wins these face-offs. She forcefully pries Cora’s fingers off the desired toy. But her adversary is no longer a naive credulous baby who just puts up with abuse. Cora will let out a war bellow and then will continue to bellow, even as her sister runs off with the toy. Cora will try to chase her sister down, but at this point, her body is not as strong as her spirit.

THE MOTHER: also unreliable, but in a different way. When present and attentive, extremely useful, as a source of comfort, food, and amusement. But a known slippery personage. You look away from the mother for even a second – and she’s gone. And there is no knowing when she will return. She is not to be trusted. Cora has learned to keep a very sharp eye on her mother at all times. Just to be on the safe side, Cora insists that her mother holds her at all times. To make double sure, Cora keeps hold of her mother’s shirt in a tight fist, whenever her hands are not otherwise occupied. If her mother wants to escape, she’ll have to pry those fingers off. And then there will be tears.

When around, kind of fun

THE FATHER: the most reliable family member. Not as interesting as the Big Sister. Not as comforting as the Mother – can’t produce milk. But generally present, generally able to give Cora what she demands. Overall a good servant. Usually ready to entertain. Sometimes entertaining. Sometimes, however, Cora has to let him know that his entertaining services are not sufficient and he needs to do better or get someone else instead.

Steal his phone, while he is otherwise engaged.

DAYCARE: A relatively new player. Initially seemed a little daunting – so many new people all at once. Initially Cora was skeptical. But rapidly becoming a very valuable second home. People are trustworthy. They pay attention and they don’t sneak away like the mother. They are getting better at catering to Cora’s whims. There are pretty good toys, and generally no one wrenches them out of her hands – just the other babies. With a foe like Big Sister at home, the other babies are easy to deal with.

But it is not just the people. It is not just the toys. More valuable than either of those is the most important service provided: sleep!

Prior to starting daycare, Cora had been struggling. She had to stay awake all through the day – no more than a brief doze; that was the rule. And then at night, she had to wake up periodically to check on the parents. It was exhausting. The stress was starting to get to her. She was considering the unimaginable: taking a daytime nap when her father asked her to… sleeping through the night… She did not want to get to this point. But it was getting harder and harder. And then… just as she was thinking about caving… she was rescued.

You can’t ever let your guard down around Cora’s family.

There is a very dark room at daycare. The ladies hold Cora in their arms and rock her and feed her a bottle. There are no parents that Cora has to check on perpetually. Finally, in that blissful, peaceful room, she is able to drift to sleep without a care. She can recharge. Her sleep is unbroken and deep. And after that kind of sleep, she has the energy she needs to stay awake when it matters, and keep her parents in line.


FOOD: You never know when you might get fed again. Eat as much as you can, whenever you can. People might stare – and they certainly do stare, when they see Cora eat – but you should ignore them. Or you can demand that they stop staring and give you more food. Their opinions are not important at all. Food is the only thing that matters. All food. Any food.

Eating is so exciting, sometimes you just have to stand up
And sometimes, you just have to crawl on the table. Especially if the food isn’t coming fast enough.

And one never knows where one may encounter food. There are certain places that should always have food, like the top of the kitchen table. If Cora is at the table and there is not food in front of her, within reach, there will be hell to pay. But that is not the only place one might find food. There could be food on the couch. Or on the coffee table. Or in the carpet. When Cora finds things in the carpet, she tests them out to see if they are food by swallowing them. If they are food, so much the better; if they are not, well, no harm done.

She has learned to be fast. Her father is her biggest enemy in these situations. He is always watching her, and she knows it. When she finds something on the carpet, she uses lightning-fast reflexes combined with the pincer grip she has been working on for the past couple of months. This way, she is often able to get the thing into her mouth and then down her throat before her father can fish it out. Sometimes, especially with large things, her father wins these showdowns. But Cora is getting faster and faster. 

She is not bothered by food that is too big. There is no such thing. Cora is undaunted by the thought of large pieces of food. If a piece of food is truly too big, but small enough to fit in her mouth, she will choke on it, hack the piece of food back up, spit it out, pick it back up, and put it back in her mouth. She will repeat this until the food is gone – either eaten, or taken away from her by the cruel parents. Cora finds this process normal and natural. The choking is a little startling but not bothersome to her. Sometimes it’s a little funny. Whether it bothers her parents, well, she doesn’t know, and doesn’t care.

There are 4 things that Cora will not allow in her mouth, however. If they find their way into her mouth, she will spit them out. They are:

  1. Avocados
  2. Plain pureed pumpkin
  3. Raw onion or raw garlic
  4. Thermometers (her parents try, but she squeezes her lips shut so they can’t get the thermometer in)


Life is hard, but you have to laugh at it, or you will spend all your time crying. Cora has therefore developed a sense of humor. There are a few things that are funny:

  1. Putting toys or semi-chewed food into her parents’ mouths
  2. When she wins a tussle with her sister, and her sister is reduced to a weeping wreck on the carpet, usually because Cora scratched her or pulled her hair
  3. Silly noises
  4. When she is clearly not as sick as her mother thinks she is, and she is able to grab the thermometer out of her mother’s hand, wave it around, and pretend to put it under her tongue before wrenching it out again. This is uproariously funny.


Overrated. Most important concepts can be communicated without speech. Not without vocal cords, of course. But specific words are not necessary. Cora is considering whether to learn to talk. It’s fun to make loud noises, and it’s fun to make different sounds with her mouth. And she likes the praise when she correctly answers the questions, “What sound does a sheep make?” or “what is this, Cora?” (when pointing to a ball). But right now it just doesn’t seem possible to be able to make as many sounds, and to combine them into as many words, as her sister does. How does her sister remember what they all mean? It’s one thing to recognize one’s own name, and the names of her family members – but there is a lot of talk that goes on around Cora. It is all quite beyond her. And really, is it worth all the bother?


Cora has become a pragmatist, not an idealist. Once upon a time, she had sworn she would do nothing if not walk. She would never compromise by crawling on the ground. She would throw her efforts into walking alone, and if she couldn’t walk, well, she would keep working until she could. But this was her younger, more naive, idealistic self. A lady like Cora has to get around. There are too many things she needs to do – toys to grab, delicate structures erected by her sister that need to be knocked down, and bits of lint in the carpet that need to be eaten. So she has learned to crawl. And crawl fast. Weeks of practice have allowed her to perfect her ability to move quickly. And actually, combining the ability to crawl with the ability to pull herself to a stand gives her a lot of freedom. She can pull herself up to a stand on anything, anywhere, so she is able to get many things that were previously out of reach. She can reach the top of the coffee table, and knock over anything up there. She can crawl over to her mother and climb up her leg, weeping, when her mother tries to escape. She can climb up on the toilet and peer down into it. She can’t quite reach the water yet. But she did find, recently, that while she was standing at the toilet, she could remove things from the trash can (conveniently located next to the toilet) and drop them into the toilet. That was quite entertaining for a few minutes, until the mean parents stopped her.

She is still considering walking, though. It still seems a bit of a lofty, distant goal right now, but she is thinking about it. Every so often she will let go of the table or couch she’s holding on to, and stand for just a second by herself, before grabbing onto it again. She’s not ready for first steps yet. But any day now – any day now, she will wake up ready.

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