The cottage has bamboo flooring throughout. I used a few fuzzy tabs (like the receptive side of Velcro) on the bottoms of the furniture to keep from scratching the perfect finish when we moved in. The bar stools would have scribbled a permanent mess around the counter in the kitchen. We have lots of dirt, sand and sometimes pea gravel lodges itself in rubber boot soles from the driveway. But we’ve managed it pretty well. There is a patina of wear from us. But pretty evenly distributed for the most part. The old house had carpet; quiet, forgiving and nastily filthy after all the years shedding on it-corn flakes of skin and debris from everyday life. The remodeled house will have wooden flooring, too. Toddler proofing included… the standard, cupboard clips (that had to be tested first on old, arthritic hands) after-all, we had to be able to open the cupboards unassisted by you. What if you weren’t home and I wanted to scrub the sink, eat some canned soup?
I invested (really) in several little packages of the fuzzy tabs at IKEA, then again at Home Depot and again at Ace. I finally found a big sheet of it with sticky backing at the fabric store for cutting custom sizes. Originally, I clipped the rounds in half and placed them on tiny-legged things, (not you guys), like end tables, kid chairs and wheel-less wooden toys that might be pushed around. (I don’t know if you knew about my thriftiness. Ever seen my notes and grocery lists on scraps from envelopes, paper towels that have the option to split into thirds of regular size and washed plastic wrap hanging for re-use? Some of these habits I am letting go of, just too time consuming.) Anyway, all the chairs, the tables, the trash cans, stools, Ellie’s eating chair all have slippery bottoms. And Liza tests each thing, like the laundry basket she uses as a push toy to remind me in case I forgot something. Now we have to be careful, because when you lean down at our house to adjust your shoe, scratch a foot or put on a boot, placing your hand on a table of stool for support, it slips away from you, leaving you flat.
The dishwasher is an interesting place for Liza. So when she’s in her eating chair I try to open and put away or re-stack the dishes. I have learned that even when she’s busy elsewhere in the house, once she hears the clank of pans or dishes, her little claws appear to pluck out then drop every item in reach. Now I put only plastic items, kids plates, cups, Tupperware in the front and she can pick and drop and put back to her heart’s (and hands) desire.
The toilet is Liza’s number one favorite. It has everything she desires; open close lid, a container to drop and take out from, sensory appeal of chilly water and sometimes an added and curious floating things, oops. It has a mechanical flusher, noise, smell, slam, swish and paper right next to it that seems to go on forever. A most perfect toddler toy. So we gave it to her. Its hers now. We all go outdoors to pee. Actually, I forgot the most important element, “No, Liza.” Get out of here, you say. I need privacy. Yucky, we say. Sucio. Dirty. Let’s go find you a pan of water in the kitchen. The activity, the hullaballoo and interest of every person who catches her at it. Our bathroom, chilly and unheated stays closed, unless we forget. She lies in wait. It’s a seasonal amusement park that opens only every other Tuesday for locals. She keeps checking. And in a pinch, the dogs water dish will do.
Metro and Georgia had become accustomed to our quiet evenings (translation: boring). The each lay in the same spot, doggie bed or foot stool- claiming it for hours at a time. But not anymore. Liza demands her right to the best spot. Wherever Metro is-that’s best. And when he gives up and goes outside to lay on the porch, Georgia’s her victim. So, we got her a dog bed for Christmas. And now when Metro sneaks into it, she tips him out, snuggles in and sits up victorious; dog hair glued to her mucous-y nose and grinning lips.
I forgot how a toddler sucks all the air out of room and warms it right back up. How she can use each of us up and also inflate us with joy. You claim a small space to play uninterrupted, Georgia, eating her food with hands slipping in vying for the best morsels, from the right then the left. A beer up-ended, hands in ice filled tumblers just wanting one sliver of ice to crack her teeth on. Squealing for everything she just realized she wants, used to want or may someday want. Laying flat throughout the day in protest. But more carefully now, so she doesn’t bump her head. It looks like you want some juice, too. Each of us talk like this to your sister. You can say, juice, you tell her. We show her the sign for drink. She is fully entertained, laying on her back on the bamboo floor, we scurry about, signaling for juice, trying to get the lower cupboard open calmly. Those dang clips! We pick up the dog water again, close the refrigerator really fast, or the mustard appears in the toilet. No wonder she goes to bed early. She’s exhausted. And us? We are by then a little tired of making adaptations for every single little movement we make. So we stay up awhile just for the peace. Usually that lasts a half an hour and then I doze off.
Ah. Napping now. Floor is clean, toys picked up, bathroom door closed. Next house it will be the door handles that let her in and out when she can reach them. The bar type. Maybe we have a week or two before that adaptation has to be made. If she was a raccoon, I’d use clips, hasps and chain. But on the front door? Friday we are your permanent guardians. It will last for at least a year, if not for life. Adaptations. That’s what life is. We adapt and accommodate over and over and over til the end, I imagine. Til the end. love you, gma. The end, by the way, is far far off. Thousands. (of days, anyway)