Thursday, May 20, 2010


When Brynna was born, or more accurately, when Brynna became mobile, I baby proofed the house. At least the areas she spent time in. I move breakable items to higher shelves, I plugged power outlets, I bought gates and kept her away from the kitchen. I tied up our blind cords and bought a lock that never worked to keep the toilet seat down.

She never got into too much trouble, either. I missed a few things and they got broken. It was mostly cool. Nothing so heart rendering that I am holding onto the anger or disappointment.

Then we moved. We moved with a pretty responsible three year old who could make her own snacks and used glass glasses at the supper table. I didn't baby proof the new house. I put stuff where I thought stuff should go, because, whatevs, she'd outgrown all that.

Then, Maren came. I baby proofed again. I moved a few breakables up a shelf, plugged the power outlets, dragged the only gate that works in our new house up from the basement and shoved it in the kitchen doorway. I don't have blinds anymore (Hal-e-freakin-lujah!) and I didn't bother with the ill conceived toilet lock.

And all was right with the world. Except it isn't. It never has been, but it's getting worse. You see, I think I'd have to live in a padded cell for it to actually be Maren proof. Maren can break things almost by looking at them. There is nothing she won't climb to get at the breakable things, either.

And things I never bothered to hide from Brynna: sharpies, diaper wipes, tape, safety scissors, my crochet tape measure, forks; all these things become weapons of mass destruction. That's right, folks, I'm pretty sure my kid can do more damage with a plastic fork than a rogue nation could do with a nuke. At least to my house.

Last weekend, she emptied the last box of diaper wipes all over the living room, unrolled an entire roll of paper towels, colored on my hardwood floor and my TV and broke three dishes. She also climbed onto a glass topped table so she could lean on the window screen.

Every time I catch her in the act (or find the scribble marks after she's gone to bed) I first become angry at her. She's 17 months old, though, so that part doesn't last long. I then become angry at myself. For letting her. For not having a better baby proofed space. For not being more organized. For the fact that FOUR weeks after Easter she's still finding candy hidden away - where? In the couch? Oh my goodness, where is the freakin' candy coming from?

I swear that tomorrow? Tomorrow I am going to remedy the situation. And I do things. I make changes. I took Brynna's art box and dumped it out on the floor and moved all the ephemera and supplies into a drawer system and moved that into the dining room. Now, Brynna can do art at the table unmolested by her little sister and I don't have to worry about prying Crayola markers and safety scissors out of Maren's tiny pink, mitts.

I have gotten in the habit of never leaving a drinking cup within her reach. This has resulted in a bunch of half-full forgotten cups congregating on the tea cart just inside the kitchen door or on the eye-level shelf on my bookcase, but whatever, it's better than constantly cleaning juice off of my couch, floor, blankets, pillows and kid.

I am very, very near putting the glass topped table in the basement for a couple of years. It would have been done already except that I kinda use that table and I'd like something to replace it first.

I always keep the bathroom door shut and it's going to be miserable in there when it's not getting any air conditioning, but as it's still not a/c weather here, I haven't started to worry about that yet.

But still. But still. But she can open the junk drawer in the coffee table that Brynna couldn't open until she was four. But she climbs and moves furniture to be better able to climb. But she pulls my curtains and I can't live without those. But she is a disaster in the kitchen and The Husband is very nearly never home when I have to make supper, so I have to make the decision to let her in the kitchen, where she can open drawers and make messes and destroy everything or leave her only semi-supervised in the living room where she may end up on top of those 8 foot bookcases.

She and Brynna are different in so many ways. Brynna never offered up a hug on her own. Maren can hardly go ten minutes without throwing herself at my arms. Brynna hated music and loved TV. Maren barely notices the TV, but dances whenever there's music anywhere. Brynna was a picky eater who is still a picky eater, but has a wider variety than she used to. Maren will eat anything and everything in the vicinity.

And don't let me paint Brynna as a pint-sized saint here. She was trouble. She is trouble. She will willfully destroy just to see if she can. She painted her entire body blue in the middle of the night once. She climbed, she got into stuff. She had issues. But it was so different. Nothing Brynna ever did could prepare me for this. I just can't keep up. I want to get ahead of it. To baby proof and then say, "It's done." But all I can do is perform damage control. The entire time she's awake.

Every night, at 7:30, I get Maren ready. Sometimes there's a bath, sometimes we skip it. I get her in her jammies, and say, "Are you ready for bed.?" "Yeah," she'll respond, weakly. All that destruction will apparently wear you right out. "Okay, say goodnight," I'll reply. Her little hand moves in the hand flappy baby wave that she loves to do so much. "Nigh-Nigh," she'll utter. So soft around the paci, secure in it's spot until morning. "Do you want to walk?" "Yeah." She'll toddle contentedly down the hall, into her room and reach up toward the crib. I'll lift her up, put her in, kiss her goodnight, make sure everything she needs is in there. Blankie - check. Stuffty - check. Board book - check. I slip out, quietly shut the door and sigh.

It's a sigh of contentedness, certainly, because nothing is quite so satisfying as seeing your little one safe and happy and sleepy. It's a sigh of relief. Now I can clean, crochet, put my drink where I can reach it, fold laundry, fix Brynna's broken toy, whatever needs to be done. I can do it without interruption or worry or ripping my hair out by the roots.

But, also, it's a sight of sadness. Every night I put her to bed draws us one day closer to her growing out of the obsession with pulling every tissue out of the box. I know this. But I also know that every night I put her to bed draws us one day closer to her growing out of giving me big hugs for no reason. I miss her after I put her down. I miss her scent and her laugh and her busy hands and busy feet.

I don't think there is really any way to successfully baby proof my house from this one. I don't think I'll ever be able to remove every temptation, every trouble, every issue. But that's okay. At the end of the day, when it's all quiet and there's no feet padding up and down the hall, cruising for trouble, I realize I'd rather have my Baby Trouble than all my stuff.


Orlandel said...

Check out the future exercise room! Welcome to my life....

Mrs. Allroro said...

I still give my parents big hugs for no reason, and I don't htink I ever didn't.

Ady said...

Reed is the same as Maren...into everything. Complete opposite of Kai. I feel ya...I wouldn't trade it for the world though

Sweet Blog

Steve said...

My two are also chalk and cheese in many ways. I sense many second children give their parents and older sibling(s) a wake-up call. Ours certainly does!