The Last High Chair: On Saying Goodbye To Everything Baby

by Melissa L. Fenton
Originally Published: 

I saw a picture recently of a friend’s adorable baby boy. It was the quintessential high chair shot — a happy baby sitting tall at mealtime, healthy bits of food splattered all over the tray, and a grin on that sweet baby’s face so wide it actually made my 44-year-old ovaries twitch. For a few moments, I missed those little people mealtimes, and even the big clunky high chair with the plastic seat covers it felt like I spent a decade wiping down.

In the background of the picture, I could see evidence of more little people. Big, bright red, blue, and yellow toys littered the floor. Their names were blurry, though from memory I knew exactly who the manufacturer was. You don’t soon forget Little Tikes blue and Fisher-Price red. It feels like I spent a very long season of my life surrounded by blinking and singing plastic toys and chewed up board books, as well as vibrating bouncers, brain-stimulating ExerSaucers, vacuums with popping marbles, and large yellow earthmoving machines that little boys spent years pushing into my kitchen cabinets. I remember it felt like it would all never leave, like my dining room would serve as a prime playgroup destination for all of eternity. I thought I’d never get my house back.

And then I did.

I looked around recently, and aside from a ton of kids’ artwork on my refrigerator and more of their artwork framed around the house, you wouldn’t really know kids lived here. There is a basket of Legos tucked neatly under the coffee table and some stuffed animals thrown haphazardly across my youngest son’s bed, but that’s it. All the plastic, the toys, the baby stuff? Gone. Over the years, the toys have slowly been replaced by big boy toys.

I haven’t tripped over a remote control car in I can’t remember when. Instead, fishing poles, golf clubs, and skateboards block my entryway. I have long since given away all my baby things. Bouncy seats, strollers, portable cribs, swings, and even cloth diapers have all found new homes. I did so soon after deciding four children was plenty for me, though I’ll admit I let it all go with both a tear in my eye of sadness that my baby days were over and one of happiness for this new baby-free season of life I was more than ready to embrace.

But there is one thing I didn’t get rid of — the high chair.

My youngest is now 9 years old, but when he was born, I splurged on one of those birchwood Scandinavian-made “toddler to large child” high chairs. It’s made to look like real furniture, and I wanted something that could transition from a high chair to a large stool you could push right up to the dinner table.

It still sits at the end of our table, and he still sits in it.

I will admit I’m in denial about the fact that he doesn’t need this chair anymore. He doesn’t need a chair that elevates him; he is plenty big enough to sit in an adult-sized chair. And yet I won’t get rid of this chair. It’s my last reminder that I once had babies in this house. I once had a big grinning baby sitting in that chair, babbling behind a tray full of carrots and cereal puffs. I once had a toddler sitting in that chair, chatting away at me while I tossed grapes and cheese sticks his way. I once had a preschooler sitting in that chair, properly using a fork and demanding ketchup and more milk. And now, as I look at my 9-year-old sitting in that chair, his long legs spilling out well beyond the foot rests, and the whole of his upper body towering above the backrest, all I can think is I can’t let this high chair go.

And I won’t.

You see, recently my 18-year-old strolled coolly into the kitchen, grabbed a bag of chips, and sat down in the high chair, now stool. I stopped in my tracks. I looked at him and my mind immediately flew back to him sitting in a high chair 17 years ago covered in spaghetti. We talked about nothing in particular, but the entire time he was going on, I kept my eye on that chair, and it was then that I realized what I was really keeping it for.

I was keeping that high chair around for his children — my grandchildren.

Maybe I’ll have to wait 8 or 10 years for it to happen, but I don’t mind. Because I think the next time around, when my house will again be littered with plastic toys and bouncy seats and all the other stuff my grown children will drop off when I’m watching their kids, I have a feeling I won’t be in any type of hurry for it all to go away. No hurry whatsoever.

Now I know how fast it all went away the first time around.

Maybe I should have kept that crib after all.

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