Thursday, January 19, 2012

Baby bootstraps

She will never be second in my heart (as I love both my children with a fervor identical to the millionth decimal place, just as a good parent should) but the fact remains that my daughter is the second child born into our family and I am constantly discovering new elements among the myriad ways in which her brother’s precedents affect her.

For example, when the little guy was getting close to his first birthday, he owned some toys, but really not that many. It wasn’t hard to tidy up the townhouse by tossing a few plastic animals in the playpen in the living room and chucking a few more into his bedroom. Now, of course, another couple years on and he has amassed loot in literal heaps, while at the same time progressing from ultra-safe teethers to vast fleets of choking hazards on wheels. And my wife and I have dealt with the choking hazard issue pretty well, I think, between drilling into the little guy’s head the idea that he has to keep his tiny cars and trains up off the floor (either in one of several plastic bins doing toybox duty or on the top of his train table) and insisting that certain toys must be kept in his bedroom at all times, plus following in his wake ourselves regularly picking up the playthings he may have missed.

The plastic bins full of toys, though … I was pretty proud of myself for seizing on those as a good defense against Total Living Room Chaos. They’re big enough to make scooping and dumping toys into them reasonably easy, but squat enough to slide out of sight under the train table when we need to clear as much floorspace as possible (and lightweight enough that the little guy himself can drag them back out again whenever he takes a mind to). They make a ton of sense for managing the epic fallout of living with an energetic three-year-old. But, again, they weren’t necessary until he had acquired about three Christmases plus three birthdays plus a couple random holidays and vacations worth of toys. They weren’t necessary when we counted his age in months, and we didn’t have them then.

So it was just the other day that I got to see for the first time what an energetic (and, no joke, remarkably strong) nine-month-old does in the presence of those toybins. Which is, of course: she grabs the lip of them and tries to pull herself up. Emphasis on “tries”, extra emphasis on “at the moment” and I have no doubt that within a week or two at most she’ll be succeeding in pulling herself up. Oh noes.

Not in good taste, but still a little teensy bit funny
Granted, I don’t think it’s actually physically possible to drown in toy trucks even if one’s head is fully submerged under a mound of plastic construction equipment. It’s also far more likely that the bins would simply tip over and spill toys everywhere while also causing the little girl to fall awkwardly and maybe at worst bump her head. Still, it’s a hazard that should be minimized as much as possible, though I confess I haven’t quite figured out what that will entail. Latching the lids on the bins at all times? Stacking them someplace weird and inaccessible like behind the end table beside the couch (which negates some of the little-guy-plays-well-on-his-own advantages I outlined above)? Weighing down the bottoms so they stay flat on the floor and wrapping the corners in Nerf-foam?

I’m sure we’ll come up with something. And at the rate we’re going, it’s entirely likely that by the time our daughter is a little over three years old our entire house will be furnished entirely in Early 21st Century Daycare with every available surface covered in nothing less yielding than ethylene-vinyl acetate and every three-dimensional object hollowed out for maximized storage space.

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