Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Death-defying Feats of a Twenty-month Old

We have three kids at home. Only three. I know you know this, but I find it helpful to remind myself constantly from time to time. There are only three of them, but sometimes it feels like we are parenting in the middle of a Friday-night rave or Daytona Beach during spring break.

We had things under control, however tenuously, until last week when Stow figured out how to escape from our elaborately constructed child-proofing. By "elaborately constructed child-proofing" I mean a cheap sofa hastily purchased at IKEA to block the archway between the playroom and the living room. I know there are extra wide baby gates out there, but the sofa was cheaper, and it opens into a(n extremely uncomfortable) guest bed. You know my hyper-frugality requires me to buy multipurpose items when at all possible. Couch = Bed = Makeshift Baby Gate. That's three for one! Score! It seemed like such an elegant solution. Until it wasn't. And it wasn't at 5:15 p.m. last Saturday when I was cooking dinner and looked down to find Stow right underfoot. I put him back into the playroom and seconds later, he was under my feet again. After that, there was no going back. None.

Stow waiting for his chance. Don't let his innocent puzzle play fool you. It took a few tries to catch him in the act, but when I did, I was surprised to learn that not only can he get up and over the back of the couch, he can also scale down the unstable, unattached shelf just on the other side of that wall. Needless to say, we moved the shelf, but we haven't been able to stop the escapes.
Here's the thing, we weren't confining Stow to the playroom to keep him out from under our feet, though that was certainly a desirable side effect. We were keeping him there because it kept him safe.  Safe from the wild world of Pink and Sky "playing" together, safe from Skyrific meltdowns, safe from all the stuff in the living room he could so easily pull down onto his head. Plus, there's a word that describes what happens when all three kids get together unmonitored by adults. Unfortunately, I can't type it here (hint, it starts with "cluster"), but the bedlam that ensues when they are all three alone together is another reason I liked to keep Stow trapped safely nearby.

You might think I'm exaggerating.

I assure you I am not. He's only been wandering freely for three days, but the impact has been hard to ignore.

On Saturday, Stow decided to rearrange the girl's doll display (link). He is also fond of vacuuming and cleaning and was nice enough to clean the toilet with the dust mop, but only after he decided to draw on Pink P's floor with chalk.

On Sunday, Sky woke up to discover Pink P had left a lid off of one of her pens. Oh the horror! She'd let one of her pens go dry and wouldn't be able to use it any more. I'd already reprimanded Pink for this. It was old news. Besides, it did not directly affect Sky in any possible way.  Unfortunately, this was one of our manic mornings that did not involve simple facts and random observations (see link above).  Instead of letting it go, Sky proceeded to have a massive meltdown about it, berating Pink for her negligence and then  taking away all her pens and telling her that, "Mom and Dad will never buy pens for you ever again!" Part of his meltdown involved yelling at and shoving Pink. With nowhere to put Stow, I could not intervene as much as I would have liked since I knew if I let go of him, he would just join the fray.***

On Monday, Stow thought I needed help making dinner. He did this by taking things (like egg shells and icky banana peels) out of the trash and dumping Sky's cup of milk onto the floor. He also felt free to help himself to some cereal out of the cereal cabinet that I'd inadvertently left unlocked.

I knew Stow's independence was coming, but I need at least another 6 months to adjust to having three kids. Pretty, please? By then, I'll be ready for it. I promise!

***Until you've experienced the irrational meltdown of a kid with ASD, you probably can't grasp the logic of Sky's behavior or my response. Just trust me when I tell you I handled it about as well as anyone might.


FMBMC said...

When R was 18 months old I walked into the dining room and found her standing on the dining room table. L was so laid back he never did anything like this, so I was totally unprepared. It did clue me in that most child-proofing with regard to her was probably pointless. Anything truly dangerous (cleaning chemicals, etc.) went on a very high shelf that was physically impossible to climb to, and that was that.

Anonymous said...

My mom tells stories about me escaping and hiding... when I was barely able to crawl. Probably one of the reasons I'm an only child. And also why I don't have kids - I'm pretty sure this escape and terrify the mom skill is hereditary...

Kel said...

My parents tell me that when me and my twin brother were really little, my brother figured out how to break out of our crib. He kicked and kicked one of the slats until it broke.. (really elaborate escape plan). To combat this, my parents turned the crib around so that the hole was against the wall. My brother then figured out that he could lay down, brace his hands against the crib, and push the crib away from the wall with his feet. He would then slide out of the existing hole and he was free. One morning, my parents woke to the sound of us giggling furiously from our room, and came in to find that my brother had gotten out of the crib, gone to the fridge and grabbed a dozen eggs, and taken them back to our room. My brother would hand me an egg, I would then hurl it to the floor of our room, and both of us would squeal with delight. I am still waiting for karma to pay me back. :)

Mom on the Edge said...

You know, I'm feeling better already! Thanks for that story. :)

Unknown said...

hehe, i was just adjusting to number 3 ( 23 months) when little number 4 came along(5 months) we're still adjusting. #3 was able to get out of the house yesterday because #1 left the front door unlocked taking the puppy out. There i am nursing baby #4 and my husband and I realize we haven't heard #3's little voice for a full min. yes he was outside in the road wearing his mama's shoes. .::sigh::. oh my heart. He's fine and #1 and #2 are now using the back door - i have an elaborate safety gate system set up from one end of the room to the other so that #3 can't spend the day counter surfing in the kitchen. i hate our open floor plan. (amazon, Carlson extra wide and tall pet gate - $28.00!!! X's two; it does the trick)

Mom on the Edge said...

I don't know how people manage to survive with multiple kids! :) I have friends with 4 and 5, and I'm still trying to figure out more than 2.