Sitting on a random corner, in the grassy crux of my driveway and West King Street, it waits for a new family.
To be honest, it shouldn’t even be there, looking quite new as it does. Not yet two years old.
The original high chair that we had owned — a luxurious Peg Perego — had been sold years before for a mere pittance of just $10 at a yard sale. This “new” high chair came to us after our fourth child was born. It was made by Childcraft, with a sturdy wooden seat and a large thick plastic tray, indestructible and easy to clean, even if it didn’t fit into the kitchen sink.
Amos, our 2-year-old son, had spent many an hour inside it, happily practicing his pincer grasp with Cheerios, handing the dog snippets of ham or peanut butter toast, and smearing yogurt and spaghetti in his hair before the throwing and dumping occurred.
If you look closely today, there are still food remnants left behind on the various surrounding surfaces — the floor, a wooden bench nearby, a once-clean painted wall, a cabinet and even the clear plastic of our fish tank. Each speckled with a seemingly impenetrable concrete layer of the meals Amos enjoyed and eventually grew tired of; now lasting evidence of blue yogurt, a splash of milk, a stain of ketchup. Being someone that can overlook mess, and even some dirt here or there, I wasn’t too bothered by this unscrapeable sludge left behind by my son’s high chair adventures.
Bigger things were brewing for us, though, before I even knew they were possible. You see, Amos has special needs, and the high chair began to represent a vicious reality: He is growing up, and will soon leave babyhood behind; but in some ways, only physically. As he’s continued to grow, so have his limitations.
It was not just this high chair, but the ones at grandparents’ houses and in restaurants, hotels and even at our church. They are getting smaller or truthfully, Amos is getting bigger. His body has been growing fast, too difficult to cram into the high chair. Even if his legs are willing, his growing feet clad in saddle shoes are not. Squares don’t fit into circles and so, I have taken off the shoes and breathed a sigh of relief for the last time.
The high chair has been evacuated from our home not because it is finally too small, but because I can no longer stand to look at its foreboding presence. Is it wrong that I want to control some parts of my destiny? It seems no area is too small for the mother who feels like she’s clinging to a rocket propelled asteroid, its course unknown. A course that is too fast to even monitor or reflect, give pause to its innocent rider. (Is any of this making sense?)
Yes, I put the high chair to the corner because I could not bear the inevitable day when it would officially be too small for Amos’ lengthy frame. Banishing it to the curb on my terms would, I hope, prevent the inevitable tears.
My terms feel safer and because there are so few of them these days, and I relish when I have an opportunity to make the decisions myself.
It was I who decided we would no longer call him a baby, and that we would get him a communication device. It’s me who will take him out to his future classroom next year and sit in the small chair and smile, encouraging him and his siblings to embrace this opportunity.
In some ways, it feels like death though, as we move further towards the unknown. But I try my best every day to fight from feeling like there’s an impending gloom that’s headed our way, and instead, embrace the inevitable.
This week, the “inevitable” is his innocent, still new, and not-yet-outgrown high chair, which now sits waiting for a new family. It won’t be one of the millions of things that brings me to tears. No, my pro-active self won the game this time. And besides, Amos is already tickled with the alternative: He has quickly laid claim to the green wooden frog-shaped table and chairs, wiped down and moved inside from the outdoor play house.
So good bye, high chair. We will miss you, but it’s time to move on. My toddler is growing and it is time for the table, even if you did feel safer. I will miss your island of confinement and safety in my kitchen, but as they say, all good things must come to an end, and I could not sit idly by and wait for you to steal my joy.
It is a choice, you know.