Baby Proofing is Not Just for Babies
I was inspired to consider this question after raising two boys and now watching my two grandchildren grow up. Why do they call it baby proofing, when babies are not the ones we have to worry about hurting themselves, at least not like three-year olds? Nope, not one-year olds, not two-year olds, but three-year olds – you know, about the time we let down our guard and assume our darling angels listened to what we taught them.
I think it is because we think of babies as innocent and having complete danger surrounding them. It breaks our hearts to think of a baby being hurt. Now, this is with good reason. There are dangers surrounding a baby. But those dangers are minimal and completely contingent upon the caretaker or parental action. Babies don’t lift up much. They can’t climb, much. Babies are easy to redirect and entertain. They can only do so much and we have complete control over that – with the exception, perhaps, of an open outlet. By the time they turn three, we are just tired and the babies are now people.
One-year olds, they walk and get into things. But generally, they too are easy to redirect. Yes, you have to watch them a little bit more, but they are so cute. We also learn to put things up and do basic baby proofing because we instinctively know the time is coming when they will begin to explore. (Having said that, my one-year old climbed window air conditioners.) Overall, though, we know to keep a constant eye on the one-year old. We do know what’s coming. This stage is the “wonderful ones.”
The two-year old is still willing to please you. Yes, he or she will throw a few tantrums if they don’t get what they want. But firmness shows them quickly that they have boundaries and willingness to please us overrides their natural desire to get into things. We do have to watch them more carefully, and put things a little higher up, but we also tend to let them get into cabinets of pans to bang around, etc. They have learned there are some things we let them do. These are the “terrific twos.”
Ah, but all hell breaks loose at three. I don’t mean three years and six months – I mean the day before they turn three. Baby proofing should be called three-year old proofing. I have seen this over and over and I call this stage the “thrilling threes.” No longer do they care about us. They want to do what they want to do. Before, you saw them heading towards danger and you could catch them and redirect. Now, they are sneaky. Here are some examples:
Baby powder (my son and his cousins) will be all over the room, “like painting.” Evil grin appears on the face to show you that they DO know what they are doing.
My grandson, took knobs off of things I didn’t even know had knobs. I found piles of knobs hidden everywhere in the house.
But nothing compares to the evil girl three-year old. My granddaughter, the day before she turned three, began her quest for independence. Daddy and grandpa thought she looked so cute under the kitchen table. I knew, I just knew – I am a mom, grandma and female. I told her to get out from under the table. She refused. Finally, she got out and said, “it’s just that maama.” She was sitting on open face powder and an open finger nail polish. Yeah, cute.
So, I began training the men to NOT give into this girl-child. I explained that they didn’t want her to grow up like the women they dislike; she was manipulating them. They didn’t believe me. Sigh.
I have picked up her blanket and found my slurpee, my computer, and my lunch. I have found earrings in the toy box. The fridge is always open. The bread is always open – and hard. Turn your back and cereal is mixed in with papers and milk. She looks at us, smiles that cute and manipulative smile and changes the subject. Worse, she will just keep repeating something over and over in the hopes we will just give up. For instance, “do you have the slurpee?” “Maama, I love slurpees – they taste good on my tongue. (Pulling my arm and me away from the blanket) let’s find your slurpee. I want a drink.” She has escaped the house more times than I can remember (before we realized how she was doing it.) She just smiles and tells us the dog got out (yes it did, because she let it out).
All the brother's men (action figures) have no legs, arms or heads thanks to the three-year old sister. Her dolls are all intact. You would think that would be the other way around. Brother got a turtle -- who runs quickly to get away from sister. The bird squawks when she comes around and the dogs hide.
Last night, she decided she wanted cereal with dinner. She told us she had to pee and went into the kitchen, brought back the cereal (it was eight feet up on a shelf) and poured it all over the table. When confronted, she just kept saying, “I got cereal, but maama, I got cereal.” She was very proud of that – or at least pretended to be to divert my attention.
So this three-year old girl is in the corner – a lot. Just like her brother and her daddy and uncle before her. But, she is manipulative. At least the boys looked at me and admitted it. No, it should not be called, baby proofing. It should be called three-year old proofing. Everything needs to be put up from ten foot and down. Ten foot! Trust me. And do not let down your guard at one or two. Otherwise, you will go through total shock when three comes around. Again, trust me. Daddy and pampa didn't. :-)