Okay I confess. I was a total snob before I became a parent. I would be in a restaurant, or church or even in the store and while smiling outwardly, think silently to myself, "Why don't those people learn to control their children and teach them how to behave in public?" I would stare at people's stained and scarred furniture and crayola decorated walls and think, "Why don't people teach their children to respect their homes and furnishings?" I thought baby gates on stairs and child proof latches on cupboards were just for paranoid people who didn't keep a close enough eye on their children. And all the while I thought smugly to myself, "I'm not going to move my books and valuables to a higher shelf. I'm going to teach my children not to mess with them. Forget baby gates, I'll just watch the children to make sure they don't get hurt. And who needs to put latches on cupboards and drawers, I'll just teach them to stay out."
Oh yes. I knew it all back then. I had all the answers.
And then we were blessed with Gideon. And make no mistake, he is definitely a blessing. He's also a lightning fast, 20 lb. Tasmanian Devil whose reach seems to be twice as long as he is. In the time it takes me to stoke the fire, he can climb two flights of stairs. In the time it takes to set up the baby gate, he can be at the fire place and pulling on the poker. No shelf, table or chair is safe unless it's above four feet high. He can open a childproof bottle of ibuprophen, have the Tupperware cupboard emptied in seconds, unroll a new roll of toilet paper in nano seconds, unplug the computer (which he's managed twice in two days. That's the reason this wasn't finished earlier today. He pulled the plug right in the middle of this brilliant soliloquoy once already today.) He somehow got the wires out of one the speakers to the surround system. (And I don't know how to hook it back up.) He can manage to get the Cheerios open, unscrew the lid of a bottle or sippy cup and of course, grab an entire bowl of baby food from mom's hands and dump it upside down on her lap and the floor. Laughing all the while of course. Make no mistake, he's a happy and exuberant child. Anyone who's been in church with us will vouch for that. He doesn't fuss or cry, but his shrieks and squeals of delight are enough to get the attention of an entire congregation bowed in prayer.
So I've shifted. My living room has been rearranged completely so that the chairs and coffee table now form a barracade in front of the fireplace. (This is not convenient when trying to use the fireplace, but what else can I do.) Since he can still wriggle in the space under the coffee table, I've started supplementing this barracade with a frontline of his "Bigger" toys hoping that they keep him occupied enough that he doesn't figure out how to move them out of the way on his own. My coffee table volumes on the Netherlands and Morocco have been moved to higher shelves for the present. As have any and all candles, floral arrangements, pictures and figurines. We have a gate that shuts in a room together. Convenient for keeping baby off the stairs, not so much for getting to the door or phone or bathroom quickly. The dishes and laundry can only be done at night after he's in bed. As well as the sweeping, dusting and mopping. My bed rarely ever gets made, showers are taken at night most of the time, the floors never seem truly clean, the remotes to everything must be kept up high, the clutter never seems to go away and my coffee tables and shelves no longer make the perfect statement they always did before. Do all parents experience this? And more importantly, how long does it last?