The fat lady swings

Something is missing from Maddi’s room tonight. Her Ocean Wonders Aquarium Cradle-Swing, which earned many times its weight in gold over the six months we’ve used it, has been retired. One day, we hope it will emerge from the storage room to cradle tiny new Phillipses. But for now, it’s gone the way of the dinosaur.

And oddly enough, a dinosaur has taken its place. After Christmas, I realized Maddi had way too many toys to fit in her tiny little room. We had two choices — either give up one of the larger bedrooms to make room for the burgeoning tide of colorful plastic, or jettison a few of her less-used belongings. Since we like our bedroom and office, and her big sister Kaija’s room is full to bursting with 30,000 stuffed animals as it is, I realized that Maddi’s swing — once essential — was now taking up an awful lot of space and is only marginally useful.

Once upon a time, when our little sausage was but a wee 10- or 11-pound cocktail wiener of a baby, she enjoyed hours upon hours of sleep in that swing. And I really do mean hours. About five a day, since she resisted sleeping in her crib once daylight emerged at 7 a.m. After her morning meal, she would sleep in the swing. During her erratic, often nonexistent naps, she was in the swing. And while I showered and dressed and sometimes even washed dishes, she was in the swing.

But now that Maddi is an 18-and-some-change-pound bratwurst, things are different. For one thing, the swing groans beneath her weight. If the batteries are less than fresh, our little sausage isn’t going anywhere. And since she’s started rolling and trying to crawl, Maddi’s not content to just sit and be entertained. She is a baby on the go. Our wee one would much rather flop about in her crib and tire herself out stalking the animals on her mobile than sit strapped in a swing.

I had begun giving her toys and stuffed animals to play with while she fell asleep, but she quickly discovered the joy of flinging them to the ground — perhaps fancying herself a balloonist releasing ballast — and then wailing for assistance. So for awhile now, she has taken her 8-to-11 a.m. nap in the crib, whose bars are too close to allow her rattles and balls to be thrown willy-nilly.

The last straw came this week, when we assembled Maddi’s new Drop ‘N’ Roar Dinosaur. This toy of Jurassic proportion has swallowed up much of Maddi’s room, not counting the 25 bazillion little Roll-Arounds balls that either came with it or other toys or inexplicably purchased separately on different occasions by each parent. (What can we say? There are balls for every possible baby occasion!) These Roll-Arounds are so numerous that they need their own special toybox, and their round shape and omnipresence invariably bring to mind — even to those like me who aren’t fans of the oeuvre — a Star Trek episode titled “The Trouble With Tribbles.”

That, along with her 47,000-odd other Christmas presents, made walking space in Maddi’s room a precious commodity. So last night, as Maddi blissfully flicked the spinning butterfly on her colossal new dinosaur (as yet, she has expressed no interest in its main feature, the ball chutes), I lugged her swing out of the room and moved the crib down the wall to make room for the mindboggling array of plastic.

Maddi didn’t seem to care that she has her floorspace back, but I’m sure in the coming weeks, as she hones those crawling skills, that she will come to appreciate her new, pared-down room.

Perhaps one day, her nursery will once more hold a kitten-tiny newborn and the cradle-swing will return. Until that day, dinosaurs rule the earth.

And here’s Maddi at 35 weeks, enjoying the space freed up in her room as she frolics in the shadow of the big plastic dinosaur (notice that one of her friends has come to visit).

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