My sharp cry and sprint across the room jolts Mom’s eyes open.
“Oh, Bo! Are you okay, buddy?” She croons from the couch.
Baby girl got me again. I should know better than to turn my back on her.
The single hairs pulled from my tail feel like sharp needles into my skin and spine.
Mom’s been sitting on the floor, back against the couch with half-closed eyes for the past hour or so.
I give her my hurt puppy eyes and curl up in the opposite corner of the apartment.
I’ve been walking back and forth, dodging those chubby, vice-like fingers for the past two episodes of cartoons. Squinting back at Mom, I forcibly shut my eyes, hoping she gets the hint that my nap is being rudely interrupted.
“Baby girl…” Mom shakes her head at the little drooling monster whose been chasing me on all fours since she tired of her plastic toys littered all over the carpet. Toys that I apparently wasn’t allowed to play with, despite their squeaky similarity to my own toys, which have somehow disappeared.
Baby gives her short, high-pitched laugh. A smirk crawls across Mom’s mouth.
Since her chubby knees began trekking across the carpet, I can’t lie down for more than five minutes before she reaches my corner of refuge, trying to grab at my hairs.
If only I was allowed on the couch…
I hear her.
Humming with each stride of the knee, her breathing increases speed. I smell her sweet softness as she nears. And, when the vibration of her chubby hands slapping the floor reverberates beneath my paw, my eyes snap open and I spring to my feet.
Just in time. Just out of tiny fingers’ reach.
Giving her a wide birth, I trot over to the opposite side of the apartment, to my cozy bed that was once a sanctuary.
Baby’s hum goes deep as she tries to turn in my direction, now behind her.
I flop on the ground in another huff.
Mom turns to me with a sigh and sad face.
“Poor Bo. She just loves you so much, buddy!”
I plop my head between my front paws, facing my next, oncoming attack. Shutting my eyes again.
I hear her before I see her anyway.
“You’re doing so good, baby girl! Keep practicing!” Mom praises.
I refuse to open my eyes at the sound of Mom’s voice, but my ears involuntarily twitch. How can she say this is a “good” thing?
Mom and I have different standards for “good” lately.
I think Baby girl dropping peas and spilling apple sauce are good things. Mom thinks the mobile monster is a good thing. We can’t seem to agree with each other.
Since Baby girl started moving last week, she gets faster everyday, which means my privacy and freedom gets smaller everyday.
Lying on the floor, my breath gets heavier and more even. I take deep inhalations of the recently cleaned carpet that now smells of the daily vacuum and of baby.
My closed eyelids feel a heaviness that longs to remain shut.
And then I hear it. My ear twitches at the sound of bubbly spittle and odd humming coming my way.
Maybe she’ll go. Maybe she’ll take interest in something else. Maybe…
My instincts know better. I feel her eyes on me even even with my own closed.
As the vibrations hit my paws and chin, my heavy lids jump just as my feet do.
With a grunt and side glance to Mom, I make my way back to the other side of the room – the other corner of previous solitude beside the dining room table.
My eyes plead to Mom with a look that used to gain her immediate sympathy. But, her own drooping eyes don’t see mine. They remain fixated on baby, though her lids cover half of her vision. A smirk stretches on her lips as she suppresses a yawn.
Huffing to myself, I rest my head down and close my eyes again. Waiting. Half hoping for rest that I don’t truly believe will come.
Another round of back and forth chasing, then baby’s grunting turns into agitated squeals. Her game of chase is leaving her empty-handed.
Her next turn to follow my lead begins with a whine, turning into a frustrated, high-pitched cry.
“Oh, what’s a matter, honey? Can’t catch Bo? He’s so fast.”
I lie down as Mom stands from the floor to scoop up Baby.
Cradling her now crying baby, Mom coos in her ear a lullaby, swaying side to side.
“I think you’ve finally worn yourself out, young lady.”
Watching Mom disappear with Baby into the nursery, I sigh and stay where I am.
Nap time is the best time of day.
My eyelids get heavy again and I finally let my guard down. The heavy footsteps of Mom’s return are a comfort. I don’t even open my eyes as she approaches my spot, though I feel her feet near my side.
As my breath deepens and my body’s heaviness sinks into the carpet, I feel a gentle hand scratch the top of my head and behind my ears.
“Good boy,” she whispers.
My tail twitches in response and Mom returns to the couch, curling up with her feet on the cushions, her head on a throw pillow.