Baby-proofing for the third child

A few days ago a good friend asked me for tips on how to baby proof a house. I told her, you have to prioritize. Stop what you’re doing right now and put your Cheetos out of reach.

After that it all sort of falls into place.

For us, baby proofing has happened naturally. They sort of show you what you need to change and put away as they become more mobile and curious. And all kids are different. Not one of my kids have ever touched an outlet, but your kid might be fascinated by them.

I also believe that the phrase “childproof” is nonsensical, because no home is child-proofed if it has anything at all in it. You think you’re prepared and then you find yourself saying, “DO NOT SIT IN YOUR APPLE SAUCE!” There’s no baby gate for that scenario.

Child-proofing for a third child is a different because you have two other children; two other children who move about the house freely and become very very frustrated with gates and locks. Two other children who want (and need!) to access art supplies, Legos, and Hot Wheels.

Then there’s David, who loves to collect. He gathers things like acorns and rocks and — don’t tell David I said this — trash. David loves bottle tops, gum wrappers, and broken glass if I’d let him. He keeps his trash treasures in a box under his bed, and he calls it his collection.

David’s collection is shoved under his bed as far as it can go to keep it from curious baby hands.

This wasn’t an issue until recently, when I kept finding the collection in the middle of the room. Or worse, I’d find Thomas sitting by David’s bed with his collection, rifling through pebbles and pinecones and buttons.

David, you have to keep your collection under your bed…You have to slide it all the way under…You have to you have to you have to….

He’d insist he didn’t leave it out, and I’d roll my eyes because I used to fib to my mother, too, and I never fooled her for a minute, either.

Then one morning I was in David’s room and Thomas crawled straight to David’s bed, flattened himself, reached under the bed, and pulled out the collection.

Right in front of me. Like he owned the place. Like he’d done it before. 

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What I’m saying is, make sure you put your Cheetos up high. Don’t just slide them under your bed like an amateur.

17/52

It seems to be birthday season, we’ve attended three birthday parties in the past two weeks. I love any reason to celebrate — Last day of school! Cinco de Mayo! All three of my kids slept through the night! (We are going to THROW DOWN when that finally happens.)

I’m a person who celebrates the cat’s birthday and my kids’ half-birthdays, so you know I love a good birthday party.

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016.

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David / On the way to this party, David asked me, “Mommy, what’s going to be at this birthday?” And I enthusiastically responded, “HORSES!” David clarified, “No, Mo-o-mmy, what friends are going to be there?”

I’m glad someone has their priorities straight.

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Mary Virginia / The parties this weekend were filled with Music! Friends! Games! Horses! Chickens! Bunnies! And on the way home, when I asked her her favorite part, she always said the cupcakes. It took her so long to eat this cupcake that someone even commented, “Wow, she’s really taking her time with that cupcake.”

She licked off the frosting and discarded the cake. It took her maybe a half an hour? Forty-five minutes? It didn’t surprise me at all. I’ve seen the girl nibble on a single Cheerio for three hours.

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Thomas / The big kids spent the weekend at birthday parties while this one napped and hung out with Daddy. I’m sure I spent more time away from Thomas this weekend than I have his entire life. We both survived. (Daddy too!)

Month 11

I usually try to keep these posts under, say, 5,000 words, but I can’t make any promises this month. Month 11 has been big. HUGE. Thomas has been BUSY and there is a lot to catch up on. He’s hitting milestones like a college senior who checked the syllabus on the last week of the semester and realized he completely forgot about that end-of-the-year project that was assigned on the first day of class. Except his end-of-the-year is his first birthday, and MAN, that’s coming quick.

Thomas is clapping, eating, teething, talking, sleeping through the night. HAHAHAHHA, sorry, I just can’t resist a good “sleep through the night” joke.

Thomas is adorable and cuddly, happy and loves to cuddle and be held. He laughs easily, loves to be tickled, and loves to play with the big kids. He’s also enormous. There’s no diplomatic way to say this — the kid is as big as most two-year olds.

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Thomas is curious, mobile, and incredibly quick. He’s not necessarily stable, though, but he isn’t about to let a few scrapes and bruises get in the way of him exploring the flower bed, the porch stairs, behind the couch. He’s busy all day tipping over trashcans and laundry baskets; pulling books and puzzles off the shelves and pots and pans out of the cabinets.

We keep the bathroom door closed and a gate blocking the laundry room, and he regularly checks both, just in case. Sometimes I find him sitting outside the bathroom crying, as if he’s insulted by the closed door.

Other times, I’ll be in the other room making a snack or putting away laundry and I realize I hear shower. The shower? And it takes me a second to look around and count heads, there’s David. There’s Mary Virginia, and that leaves…THOMAS!!

He crawls to the bathroom with such focus and purpose, as if it’s his 9-5, as if he has an actual responsibility to check the toilet, spin the toilet paper roll, and then turn on the shower. And if I interrupt him he protests like a censored artist — I HAVE RIGHTS!!!

No, Thomas, you don’t have rights. Not until you start paying off the 11 months of back rent you owe.

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Thomas has been babbling for a long time, and this month some words have emerged from that babble. He says BA! when playing with his ball, and when I say 1-2-3-GO! he says GO!

When he drops food from his tray, he looks over the edge and says UH-OH! And then we all cheer so drops another piece over and over while we cheer.

He says DA-DA-DA and, from his crib in the middle of the night, he calls out: MA-MA-MA-MA-MA!

I assume he’s calling for me, but it’s possible that he’s saying “Ma-Ma-Mary Virginia.” After all, we are co-mothering.

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Last month, Thomas was still nursing pretty much every three hours, and the best way to describe how I felt about it was underwater. I have a giant baby who nurses like a newborn and swats away most solids. I felt underwater and like things weren’t ever going to change; not because I’m anxious to wean him, but because I just want to drop one or two feedings during the day or ::ahem:: night. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Then this month, he suddenly has increased interest in eating table food. Some days I just nurse him a few times.

And wouldn’t ya know it, on those days I think, “No, this is too soon. Don’t grow up so fast, Baby Thomas.”

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Thomas has started an awful habit of hitting and biting. He hits a lot. I spend a lot of the day on the living room floor while Thomas traverses my legs and torso like I’m his personal jungle gym, here to climb on…and hit.

Thomas isn’t trying to be aggressive, he’s just trying to play and interact with me. But it’s kind of like an over-eager puppy who nips and jumps. It’s never cute.

And when I say OW! Or hold his hand, he always misinterprets that as me egging him on.

He hits and when I say OW! he just laughs, then hits again. Then laughs. This is especially prevelant and especially annoying at bedtime. When he does it I have to resist the urge to say, “STOP IT RIGHT NOW, YOU! What do you think life is, just a big game!?? IT IS BEDTIME YOUNG MAN!”

If I did, I know what his response would be. He’d hit me again, then laugh. Because, yes, Mom, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. Life is just a big game. Play along, would you?

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Dear Thomas,

One day last week we were outside playing and I needed to start dinner. Since I can’t see the backyard from the kitchen, I usually bring everyone inside when I cook, but on this particular day I decided to let your brother and sister play while you and I went inside.

You love your brother and sister, and you love to be outside, and when I brought you in you started screaming. You threw yourself at the base of the gate and cried and cried until I decided to cancel dinner and go outside and play.

“Grilled cheese,” I told your Daddy when he got home asked what we were having for dinner. “And you’re going to have to make your own.”

You love your brother and sister. You just enjoy being with them, surrounded by the activity. If I’m trying to put you down and you can hear them playing in the other room, you will not settle.

It brings me such joy to watch David play peek-a-boo with you through my legs, when I change your diaper Mary Virginia runs to help.

It’s such a privilege, not just to watch you grow, but to watch how you’ve changed our family. There are days when we should eat grilled cheese for dinner because playing outside together is more important. Thanks for that.

Love,

Ma-Ma-Ma-Ma!

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