It’s amazing the little things in life that can bring a smile to your face.
Back in 2002, when I was expecting Sarah Kate, I did something that most first-time moms do – I registered for baby stuff. One of the items that I registered for was a Fisher Price Kick & Play bouncer. In addition to the typical vibrating seat, the bouncer also had a toy bar with lights, songs, and sound effects. It had two modes: baby-activated or continuous play. The way that it worked was when the baby would kick his/her legs, the lights and sounds would come on. Pretty cool, huh? I was thrilled when my in-laws gave it to us as a gift.
Unfortunately, baby-activated mode never worked for Sarah Kate. It wasn’t defective or anything like that – my baby just couldn’t activate it. From birth, Sarah Kate’s little legs were so tight and weak that she was never able to summon the strength needed to make the lights and sounds come on. We only used it in continuous play mode, and when my sister had a baby a few years later I passed it on to her.
When my sister found out I was pregnant last fall, she committed to sending many of her baby things to me, as I had long since given away everything that I had. Among the items she gave me were two bouncers – one of which was the Fisher Price Kick & Play. Because some friends had given us a brand new Fisher Price bouncer, we decided to keep it and give away the Kick & Play to our local crisis pregnancy center. I stuck it in the corner in Baby Nate’s room until I could make the time to do it.
Now, Baby Nate is the sweating-est baby I’ve ever been around (according to my mother-in-law, Mr. Andi was the same way as a baby). It doesn’t help that we live down here on the gulf coast in humidity central. The other of the two bouncers that my sister had given me is covered in fleece fabric, and recently Mr. Andi suggested that we give it back to my sister and keep the Kick & Play instead. I agreed – that fleece makes me hot just to look at it these days, and I don’t think I could bear putting Baby Nate in it all summer. The crisis pregnancy center could wait for the Kick & Play a few more months, I figured.
A couple of days ago, I put Baby Nate in the Kick & Play for a minute so I could get his bottle ready and decided to try the baby-activated mode. He’s still pretty young so I really had no idea if it would work. He started kicking right away and the lights and sounds came on. His face got into The Zone and he was clearly watching what was going on. He stopped moving for a minute and the lights and sounds stopped. He kicked again and again came the lights and sounds, which he watched intently. I completely forgot about the bottle for several minutes while I watched him, Kicking-&-Playing to his heart’s content.
I was ecstatic and I think I grinned for the rest of the afternoon, but it’s hard for me to explain exactly what the big deal was about the Kick & Play. I guess in some little corner of my mind, Baby Nate’s diagnosis of Down syndrome somehow seems “worse” than his big sister’s diagnosis of cerebral palsy. What I realized, though, with the Kick & Play, is that it’s not worse – just different. She is brilliant and may graduate from Harvard with honors (although I hope not, because I can’t afford Harvard!), but she may never be able to jump rope. As for him, it’s unlikely that he’ll attend college, but jump rope might be a favorite pastime for him. There’s no way to know.
For now, I’ll take my Little Happy.