Tales From The Crib

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Goodbye, disgusting nemesis

My life is defined by order and structure.

It's how I get through my days, and how I keep my sanity.

Here's a glimpse into my obsession: I could never go to bed with a dirty dish in my sink. The pillows on my bed have to be arranged a certain way. Shoes are never left in the TV room, and my clothes are organized by color.

You get the picture.

But, I have a secret: my baby's high chair.

There it is, sitting off to the side of the kitchen table, in all its sleek gray and white splendor. Get a bit closer and dare to lift up the seat cushion and you will discover the most disgusting, crusted food-filled chair you have ever seen.

It's quite remarkable, really, just how nasty this thing has gotten.

It's been through two kids now, and heck, I don't even know if I deep cleaned it between kids. Can't remember.

Meals pretty much go like this:

For breakfast, baby gets a cup of fruit put on her high chair tray, followed by some scrambled eggs. She signals that she is finished by running her hand back and forth across the remaining food on the tray and deliberately sending the crumbs to the floor. (They teach that in the "How to Drive Your Parents Crazy" class.)

I clean off the tray fairly easy, then tackle the cushion. Ugh. There are egg bits mashed into the cracks of the cushion. Even the strap has fruit syrup on it.

Then I hit the floor, picking up pineapple, egg, Cheerios, whatever the menu was. I have to hurry because the baby thinks it's more fun to actually eat off the floor. And she really likes to stomp on Cheerios and finish them off with a gleeful "Heeee."

Lunch and dinner go the same way. And pretty soon I find that a few weeks have gone by and this high chair hasn't had a deep cleaning in a long time.

But what's the point?

The second I clean it, this baby is going to annihilate it again.

I almost don't want to clean it too much because all my hard work will be for nothing. That's normal, right?

One day my parents are visiting and my mom and I head out for a day of shopping. When we return, my father and hubby are sitting on the couch, exhausted.

"Well, we cleaned that high chair," my father says. "It was DISGUSTING. When is the last time it was cleaned?"

Then my hubby: "Angie, that was gross. I'm surprised the health department has not shut us down."

OK. So I have no excuse.

The only comforting part of this mess is that I have been at other houses and their high chairs aren't sparkling either. At least some of my friends have dogs who will lick up the food as it drops.

A few months pass, and we decide it is time to get rid of the high chair and move the baby to a booster chair.

But I plan to sell it to a resell store, so it needs to be cleaned before I take it there.

My husband goes in first. He spends an hour with a sponge and soap, scrubbing up and down the offending object.

Then he passes out on the couch.

Next it's my turn. I start in with the sponge and Clorox wipes. My back is aching.

I actually think the baby has been stuffing squishy mandarin oranges down the sides so I can't see them.

Now I'm really cruising. I even get out toothpicks to clean out the little grooves in the latches on the straps. Wow. Now I get off those stickers my toddler put on the sides of the high chair ages ago.

Another two hours later, it is done.

The shine is blinding, and the scent is wonderful.

We immediately take it to my car before I change my mind. So long, high chair. You were good to us, but it is time for us to part.

* Angie Wagner writes a weekly column on parenting for Pilot readers.