Budding Acrobat

by Mary Beth

Tonight Cora stood up in her high chair and then abruptly dove out of it, sideways, headfirst. Cora likes to stand up in her high chair. She always gets lots of attention. It is negative attention, but any attention is preferable to being ignored.

Also, although her mommy has tried to teach her sign language for “all done”, waving her hands around just doesn’t seem like an effective way to get a point across. So instead, Cora picks up any remaining food and hurls it onto the floor as hard as she can and as fast as she can (she used to be slower, but then her parents had an easier time catching it). And then she lumbers to her feet and yells at her parents as loudly as she can, to let them know that she is finished. It is much more useful in terms of getting their attention than quietly and sedately waving her hands.

For months now, Cora and her parents have been battling about Cora standing up in her high chair. When Cora first figured out how to stand up in her high chair, she was overjoyed. She could climb onto her tray and from thence, onto the table. For awhile, her parents were shocked and somewhat amused. And then they yelled at her, and she ignored them, and got faster at getting onto the table. But then they put a big fat pillow behind her back so her tummy was pressed up against the high chair tray, making it harder to stand up. They thought they had won. They thought the battle was over. And for awhile it was. Cora was checkmated.

And then, somehow, Cora figured out how to stand up, even with the pillow.

When she first stood up, tall and strong and a little wobbly, she smiled down at everyone from on high, feeling extremely proud of herself. She felt even more gleeful when she caught sight of her parents’ open mouths. She ignored the subsequent commands- “Down, Cora! Sit down!”

Every day since, Cora has gotten better at standing up in her high chair. She has heard her parents talk about getting a new high chair, and she laughs. She will figure out that high chair, too. No one can restrain a spirit like hers.

Tonight, however, she just wasn’t feeling like she was getting the attention she needed. Naked except for a diaper, with bits of broccoli and corn sticking to her face and tummy, she towered above her parents.

“Mamamama!” she cried. “Mommeee!”

Her mommy glanced at her briefly, and told her to sit down, then went back to talking to Annie. Cora switched to yelling. Her mommy needed to pay attention to her and give her what she wanted. She didn’t tell her mommy what that was. Mommies are just supposed to know.

But Annie had a canker sore in her mouth, and kept weeping into the tablecloth and taking Mommy’s attention. So Cora felt she needed to up the ante. From standing, she pitched herself headfirst out of the high chair, towards her mommy but also towards the floor.

Her mommy reached out and, inches above the floor, caught her by one leg and one arm. Her mommy then lowered her to the ground.

Cora was very, very angry. She screamed in frustration. Her leg and arm hurt! And she was on the FLOOR now! That was NOT where she was supposed to be! And she was NOT getting enough attention. She started to sit up, but the cruelty of the world around her was too much, and she collapsed forward, her head down on the carpet, and wept.

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