I can easily spend an hour each day sprawled out on the floor, nose to carpet, examining the pile for lint, leaf bits, and the random fluff that floats around any cat-cluttered house no matter how many times you vacuum. Just step over me. I’ll be there for a while, putting all those specks in my pocket, trying to get to them before Sunshine (formerly The Schnooks) does. At nine months old she’s a crack-up, a mooch, and the household’s chief fleck inspector. She’s also mobile and voracious; I feel like I’m on suicide watch, anticipating the next item she’ll grip in her tiny fist and shove into her mouth.

It doesn’t help that our vacuum bit the dust, so to speak, and now spits out more specks than it sucks up. And I guess I don’t think like a baby, since I’m almost never right about what Sunshine will eat, especially when we’re outside or visiting someone. Or maybe my vision is just off, and I simply can’t see what she sees.

Even at home it’s impossible to always stay ahead, though it’s easier when she inadvertently warns me. She goes still and stares at something, then wiggles her ample booty, wrinkles her nose, and lets out her happy Beavis “heh heh heh”. A moment later she’s off, scooting across the room in adapted military fashion, forearm, hand, toe, toe. At times like those, I swoop in, examining her path for any chokeables or other hazards.

When she quiets, though, her mouth pursed closed, her little jaw working, I know I’ve missed something and am about to fight a baby who’s determined to chew, chew, swallow anything small enough to fit between her teeth. All four of them. Sometimes she wins, downing it before I get to her. If not, I squeeze her cheeks, fish-lipping her, and examine the piece. Let her swallow it? Scoop it out? Depends on if it’s worth the struggle.

Staying ahead of Sunshine is never easy. Still, the scooting’s cute. It may even be worth the constant vigilance.