Monday, July 18, 2011

Destruction in Their Pathway

Look at any baby store, any parent magazine and you will discover that the home we live in 24-7 is unsafe for children and requires at least two thousand dollars worth of specialized equipment to help them reach the tender age of four. But for all the talk of how one has to make a house safe for an infant, the reality is steeper than a newbie parent can possibly bear.

Alas, those veterans out there know it well; a baby needs no protection from the house. The house needs protection from the baby. As my Grandfather and Grandmother would say (and they raised nine), "Destruction in their pathway! Destruction in their pathway!"

The following policies have been devised over years of extensive research (born of hard knocks), to prevent maximum property devaluation from occurring before said toddler reaches the age of reason or the domicile is condemned.

Rules for Toddler Proofing a Home.

Rule #1. Ban writing equipment. As of this moment, all pens, markers, crayons, pencils, paint brushes, nail polish applicators, lip sticks, high lighters, sharpies, white out, paint, India ink, mascara and glue are officially illegal. They may not be purchased. They may not be borrowed. They may not be accidentally brought home in one’s purse or briefcase or backpack. Older children in school will have to complete their assignments either before coming home or on the computer. Those needing to use actual writing utensils will be taken to a separate location, like a library, neighbor’s house, or large rural vacant field and allowed to return only after the assignment has been completed and a thorough body search has revealed no contraband crayons, pens, pencils or markers are entering the vicinity.

Please understand that these precautions may not protect your walls from toddler creativity entirely. Once, I found my daughter drawing on the window with a banana; inspiring rule #2.

Rule #2. Hide Consumables. All food shall be placed at a height of 60, no… they can use chairs and a broom, 70, no… they can climb, 84 inches or higher to prevent scavenging. This includes traditional foods thought to be the preferred choices of toddlers, like multi-colored gold fish, Oreo cookies, apples and juice boxes, and some items that most adults would consider at the very least, unusual; examples of this alternative eating include free basing Maple Syrup, chomping a stick of butter like a candy bar and grabbing whole fists of ground beef before it’s cooked.

Rule #3. No Car For You! Like your vehicle? Hide your keys. Why? Car keys are fun. They make excellent experimental objects for scratching things like dishwashers, wall paper and actual cars. Keep keys in a box on the top shelf of the cabinet to guarantee maximum safety or be willing to suffer the damages plus the embarrassment of being awakened on a Sunday by the annoying car alarm going off that turns out to be yours.

Rule # 4. Constant Vigilance! Consider installing a close circuit TV and an ankle bracelet. Why? Because toddlers do 16 things in the time it takes an average adult to pour a cup of coffee. In the time you’ve spent reading these tips, your anniversary watch just went into the pewter pitcher in the lower cabinet. Because that particular pitcher is the one you use for special occasions, you’ll find your watch next Mother’s Day preferably before you go to pour in some orange juice.

Upside: You’ll find out all your kid does.
Downside: Humanity cannot always bear that much reality.

Rule #5.  Fairness and Order. Explain to older children it is unjust to use the fact that they are living with an essentially non civilized entity with opposable thumbs to their own advantage. The two year old did not mess up your room or strip the bed or leave the toilet scrubber in the middle of the room. Okay, maybe that last part, but own your own mess. Even SHE can’t have done all of this.
Veteran Tip: If you implement rule 4, you can even produce evidence, though in some cases, you might opt to destroy the tapes.

Rule # 6. Contain Yourself. All liquids stored in the house, be they ketchup or water, Windex or shampoo, will be triple sealed to prevent a "help yourself" mentality that has lead to more than a few moments of hyperventilating on the part of Mom. They will also be stored out in the garage. Yes it’s a pain but keep reminding yourself of how long it took to clean up the olive oil from the carpet and you will see the wisdom of this system.

Drinks served at meal time will be in sippy cups for all family members. No exceptions. This will prevent any unfortunate run-ins with electronic equipment that does not like liquid. Cabernet with a touch of ice does surprisingly well in a plastic container.

Special Veteran Note: Do not mix up sippy cups!

Take lots of pictures of her when she draws her arm entirely purple with the one marker left in the house, or when she stomps on grapes in the kitchen. This impossible stage fortunately is blessedly short, and you’ll want proof for when she has two year olds herself one day of why you can just listen and laugh.

Editor’s Note: These six rules were compiled from the antics of nine different children going through the stage of being two. Cupie Doll, a.k.a. Miss Chief, it wasn’t all you.


*kate said...

So true :) This will have me chuckling all day!

Mary B said...

Love it! Also pull the crib away from walls with any wallpaper because they will pull it down.

Joanne said...

That was wonderful! Where were these rules when I was raising my 5? Could have saved me a lot of aggravation!

Jody Worsham said...

O,o,o,OOOOh, (me holding my sides laughing, remembering, and running to see what I've left out now). Don't forget adding bells to toilet lid..advanced warning. My oldest daughter once freely decorated the bed, linens, and walls with nothing but the contents of her diaper.

munchesmom said...

Oh so funny...yet oh so true! I could add a situation to each one of those rules!

Sand Mama said...

and lets not forget finding sanitary supplies, sticking them on everything possible and being completely perplexed about what they are for...

"They're for mommies, honey."
"I know that! But WHAT are they FOR?!?!"

Sharon said...

Sherry, So funny and so real. I'm going through this for the 3rd time. My great-grands are 4, 19 mo and 19 mo (cousins, not twins).
You forgot to mention sewing equipment. My 2 yr old son found my pin cushion full of pins and a seam ripper. He pulled out the pins, cut open the cushion and tossed it all in the girls' playpen.

Jeanne said...

Very cute. 10 children. I can't even imagine. I have taught classes of kids smaller than that! Anyway, for me I would add, be sure your pets are baby-proof. They go through a lot of man-handling, however lovingly intended. Woof woof.

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