Yes, those are sharp, metallic, potential choking-hazard keys in my daughter's mouth. Yes, I offered them to her. No, I am not happy about it. But I am happy that the 20 minute screaming/tearful/red-in-the-face-stop-breathing-for-a-few-seconds-at-a-time/"Mama, get me out of this car seat" episode has come to an end. Baby girl despises the car seat. It was the only hard part of being in California. Every time we got in the car, I braced myself for her inevitable meltdown. She would look at me with questioning desperation in her eyes, as if to ask "Why, Mama? Why am I strapped in to this confining chair instead of in your arms? This chair makes me maaaaaaaaaaad!" And I couldn't explain to her. I couldn't hold her. I couldn't nurse her (although I attempted to a handful of times, much to the surprise of passing motorists and entertainment of my sisters). She would scream louder and longer than she ever had before, until we remembered the phenomenon of the keys.
We discovered the magical calming abilities of the keys one evening while traveling through midtown, at rush hour, on the subway. Apparently, Biet does not like being packed like sardines into a hot subway car with sweaty businessmen, and she began to let everyone around her know. Oh, the looks I got as her high-pitched wails filled the air! I tried to calm her, but she simply wasn't having it. Just as one of the businessmen was about to throw down his briefcase and throw us out of the moving train (I was sure of it), a kind woman came up to us and began to jingle her keys in front of Biet. Suddenly, silence. Then, laughter. It was amazing. She explained that she used the trick of the keys with all three of her kids. It was so sweet.
Biet has since warmed up to the subway and now rather enjoys her bumpy rides on the train, so we had forgotten all about the keys. Until the car seat came along. That's when we discovered that they still work (thank heaven!). When I began to jingle those keys in from of her little red teary face, her screaming quieted, her distress subsided, and she was enthralled. Except Biet is now a big baby, who not only gazes at the keys, but wants to hold them and eat them. So I allowed it (with close supervision). I had to choose between a hysterical baby and an unconventional toy. And I chose the latter. We're sort of figuring out this parenting thing as we go along..